EUROPEAN Union Health and Consumer policy commissioner Tonio Borg has announced the Commission will propose a partial ban on neonicotinoid pesticides due to their possible impact on bees.

The move comes in the wake of conclusions recently reached by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and a report published last week by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The Commission will call for harmonised and legally binding measures inspired by the precautionary principle as well as the principle of proportionality.

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Seeds treated with neonicotinoids have been linked to a decline in honey bee populations, and were suspended in France last year.

The process involves coating seeds with the pesticides prior to planting, and is one of the most efficient forms of crop protection against severe seasonal pests such as aphids.

SNP member of the European parliament's Agriculture Committee, Alyn Smith said: "The importance of bees to our food producers has been overlooked for too long and the alarming numbers of colony collapses are extremely worrying.

"What is becoming clear, however, is that the link between pesticides and these collapses is in des-perate need of further examination.

"With the annual value of pollination by bees being put in the region of €15 bil-lion (£12.9m), we simply cannot afford to just wait and see. I am glad the Com-mission has finally woken up to the reality of what the decline of bees really means – better late than never."

Market round-up

THE Cumberland & Dumfriesshire Farmers' Mart had 2764 store hoggs and feeding ewes forward at its weekly sale in Longtown on Tuesday.

Top prices and averages for hoggs: Suffolks to £56 and averaged £41.43; Texels £59 and £40.89; Greyfaces £48.50 and £36.90; Cheviots £47 and £34.20; Blackfaces £36.50 and £28.95.

Wallets Marts sold 1384 prime hoggs in Castle Douglas on Tuesday to a top of £71 per head and 179.5p per kg to average 149.4p.

There were also 443 cast sheep forward that sold to £67.50 for Texel ewes and averaged £41.30.

Craig Wilson sold 26 prime heifers at Ayr on Tuesday to a top of 225p per kg and an average of 206.3p or £1188.82 per head, while 17 prime bullocks peaked at 217p and levelled at 201.7p or £1207.41.

In the rough ring, 79 beef cows averaged 139.2p and 150 dairy cows levelled at 110.3p. Five bulls averaged 142.2p.

There were also eight dairy heifers and four dairy cows forward that sold to £2480 for a Holstein Friesian heifer and averaged £2060.21 overall.

The firm went on to sell 1042 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart yesterday to a top of £82 and 200p to average 143.8p (+9p on the week).

The 177 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £90 for Suffolks and £48 for Blackfaces while rams peaked at £88 for a Texel.