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By Claire Davenport
BRUSSELS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Thursday it wanted EU member states restrict the use of pesticides linked to the decline of bees.
The Commission said it was asking EU countries to suspend the use of neonicotinoid insecticides - among the most commonly-used crop pesticides - on sunflower, rapeseed, maize and cotton.
"We are requesting (that) member states suspend for two years the use of this pesticide on seeds, granulates and sprays for crops which attract bees," Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent told a regular daily briefing.
"We hope the regulation can be adopted before March," he said, adding that the Commission expected it to be implemented at the latest by July 1, 2013.
The spokesman said there would be an exception for maize seed in 2013, where the Commission would authorise neonicotinoid use unless member states wanted to implement restrictions.
A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) earlier this month said three widely-used neonicotinoid pesticides, made by Switzerland's Syngenta and Germany's Bayer, posed an acute risk to honeybees. (Reporting by Claire Davenport; editing by Rex Merrifield)