Dutch arable farmers want to be exempt from the EU’s ban on three pesticides which harm bees and have called on agriculture minister Carola Schouten to campaign for the exemption in Brussels, Trouw reported on Tuesday. Last month the European Commission banned the use of three neonicotinoids which are harmful to insects, particularly wild bees, but Dutch sugar beet farmers say they are essential to growing their crop. Last week it emerged that Belgium’s minister of agriculture is to apply for an exemption from the ban on neonicotinoids for the country’s sugar beet growers, Trouw said. Now Dutch beet farmers want Schouten to follow the Belgian example. They argue that sugar beet does not produce flowers which are attractive to bees, and thus their crop does not hurt insects. Earlier this month, natural heritage group Natuurmonumenten published a new report showing that the insect population of the Netherlands has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years. The report did not draw any firm conclusions about what caused the sharp decline, but said more intensive farming methods may be partly responsible.