Slow Food Slow Food Donate Slow Food Join Us

English - Italiano

Slow Europe
Raw Milk

Neonicotinoids: Syngenta and Bayer go to court against the European Commission

Belgium - 03/09/2013

In May 2013, the European Commission announced a two-year restriction on the use of three insecticides: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin. The ban on the three substances - all part of the neonicotinoid family - came following the findings of a risk assessment conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which identified a number of risks they pose to bee populations.

Two giants of the agro-industrial pesticide industry: Syngenta, manufacturer of thiamethoxam, and Bayer, producer of imidacloprid and clothianidin, have now decided to challenge the European Commission’s decision before the European Court of Justice.

Claiming the ban is unjustified and disproportionate; the industry points of contention are as follows:
- Neonicotinoids do not affect the health of bees. The principle factors in their decline are pathogens, climatic changes and the destruction of their habitats.
- The Commission’s decision was made without the backing of all EU Member States.
- The EFSA’s risk evaluation was inadequate and incomplete.

Elsewhere, groups such as the European Beekeeping Coordination (a technical group formed by pan-European professionals from the beekeeping sector) state that the Commission’s decision is completely justified. In fact they say it should have been more stringent, including the suspension of ALL uses of neonicotinoid pesticides – most notably in seed treatment of cereals in the winter, their use in greenhouses and in the production of seeds. Why?

- The risks associated with these pesticides for bees - a pillar of our biodiversity - are recognized by EFSA scientists. Research has also shown a wide dispersion and persistence of these substances in the environment. Measures must therefore be taken in the name of precaution. The decline of other pollinating insects, such as wild bees and butterflies, is not linked to pathogens that affect honeybees; nor is it linked to “bad beekeeping practices”.
- Although not all EU Member States voted in favor of the ban, a simple majority was reached: 15 out of 27 countries. In the absence of a qualified majority, the decision rests with the Commission.
- The EFSA’s re-evaluation of the risks these three neonicotinoids present includes new scientific information regarding their chronic toxicity and non-lethal effects on bees.

Given that Syngenta and Bayer see the suspension as unjustified, their alternative is a plan of action to save the bees. This includes increasing the amount of pollinating flowers, as well as risk prevention measures such as the correct use of their products.

Alongside a total ban, the European Beekeeping Coordination wants to see the promotion of agricultural practices that respect pollinating insects; and an agricultural policy that calls into question the use of pesticides, monocultures and the use of GMOs.

According to a spokesperson for the European Commission, the judicial procedure that will follow the legal action of Syngenta and Bayer will not stop the implementation of the restriction on neonicotinoids.

For the European Beekeeping Coordination, the Commission’s decision was made on a clear legal basis. The industry’s lawsuit does not therefore come from judicial interest, but is rather, and only, a demonstration of power and a political attack.

Pesticide Action Network Europe and the Confederation of Farmers intend to appeal the decision, asking the Commission to declare a complete ban on the use of these three insecticides. More information is available: here.

Carolina Cardoso - European Beekeeping Coordination



Focus on

The Magnificent Three
| 18/09/2014
A guiding thread links the three new Balkan Presidia that will be presented at the Salone del Gusto: the desire of...

European Citizens' Initiative against TTIP and CETA rejected by the EU Commission
Belgium | 16/09/2014
In response to the ongoing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) and on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), more than 200 European organizations, including Slow Food, launched a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI): a tool to request that the European Commission deal with a subject and introduce a legislative proposal. The ECI called on the Commission to repeal the negotiating mandate for the TTIP, and asked for the CETA not to be concluded. Last week, the European Commission rejected the registration of this ECI, stating that the negotiating mandates on TTIP and CETA are not legal acts but rather internal preparatory acts between EU institutions, and therefore not contestable via an ECI. This decision reinforces concerns on the transparency of the negotiations and has been contested by the STOP TTIP alliance on legal grounds.

Click here to find out more.

New European Commissioners Named
Belgium | 15/09/2014
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, this week announced the names of his candidates for EU...

Europe Comes to Turin
Belgium | 03/09/2014
The European Commission will have a significant presence at this year’s edition of the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre...

Where is my meat from?
Belgium | 03/09/2014
In a new campaign launched yesterday, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) stepped up demand for origin labeling of processed meat:

Find Slow Food's standpoint on labeling here.

Slow Europe

Slow Food - P.IVA 91008360041 - All rights reserved

Powered by blulab