The EU on Friday advocated an almost total ban on insecticides blamed for killing the bee population, which environmentalists call the "beacon of hope".
Bees help to pollinate 90 percent of the world's most important crops In recent years, they have died of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious scourge that is partly due to pesticides.
Activists in black and yellow suits brought a huge inflatable bee before voting in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels.  The chemical giants rejected the decision and said it would hurt European farmers.
The EU imposed a partial ban in 2013 but adopted drastic measures following a major European food safety report The agency said in February that the chemicals pose a risk to honey bees and wild bees.
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EU Environment Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said he was" glad that Member States voted in favor of our proposal "to restrict chemicals and tweet a picture of activists.
A statement by the Commission states that EU countries have endorsed a proposal by the European Commission to further restrict the use of three active substances … for which a scientific review revealed that their use damages bees in the open air. "
The pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – are based on the chemical structure of nicotine and attack the nervous system of insect pests
environmental groups that are long for a ban on neonicotinoids 9011] Greenpeace said it was "good news for bees, other pollinators and our wider environment". But it added that "the EU must ensure that they are not simply replaced by other harmful pesticides."
Friends of the Earth Europe Bee Campaign Sandra Bell said this was a "tremendous victory for our bees and the environment".
The Avaaz campaign said that "the ban on these toxic pesticides is a ray of hope for the bees."
"Finally our governments are listening to their citizens, the scientific evidence and farmers who know that bees can not live with these chemicals and we can not live without bees," said Avaaz senior activist Antonia Staats.
– "Sad day for farmers" –
But two chemical giants whose products are affected – the Swiss Syngenta and Bayer of Germany – Against the ban
Bayer said it was "a sad day for the farmers and a bad business for Europe ".
A statement states that it will "not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators. The decision will further reduce the ability of European farmers to combat the impo of pests for which there are many alternative treatments." [19659017Sygentasaidthedecisionwas"disappointingbutnotunexpected"addingthat"today'sdecisionisnottherightoutcomeforEuropeanfarmersorfortheenvironment"
Unlike contact pesticides, on the Surface of leaves remain, neonicotinoids are absorbed by the plant from the seed phase and transported to leaves, flowers, roots and stems.
They were widely used the last 20 years, and were designed to control juvenile insects such as aphids and root-eating larvae.
Previous studies have found that neonicotinoids can cause bees to become disoriented, so they can not find their way back to the hive to lower their resistance to disease.
In recent years, fears about the health of the bees have increased worldwide.
Pesticides, along with mites, pesticides, viruses and fungi, or a combination of these factors, are thought to be responsible for colony collapse.
The United Nations warned last year that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators – especially bees – are affected and butterflies – risk global extinction.