Qualified majority for fipronil restriction at EU level
17 Jul 2013
EU Member States supported the Commission’s proposal to restrict the use of fipronil (1). This decision follows the EU Food Authority EFSA’s reassessment of fipronil, which identified that seeds treated with fipronil based pesticides pose high acute risk to bees (2).
At the Standing Committee Meeting on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 16th of July, 23 Member States voted in favor of the restriction, 2 voted against (Romania and Spain) and 3 abstained (UK, Czech Republic and Slovakia). The restriction will be on crops where fipronil can be used as a seed treatment. Authorisations may be granted for the treatment of seeds that are exclusively sown in greenhouses.
The measure will start by 31st of December and the Commission will review the restriction within two years.
For the European Beekeeping Coordination, the fipronil restriction is another important step to protect bees. However, the best risk management measure will always be the non-use of broad-spectrum, systemic and highly persistent pesticides, such as fipronil (3).
This late and still partial measure shows once more how the pesticide producers use selected scientific data to their advantage. This is absolutely necessary to reassess continuously risk assessment methods and authorisations of molecules that have high effects on human health and the ecosystem. Assessment has to be public, independent, and totally reliable. Any damage to bees and pollinators must absolutely be avoided.
As for neonicotinoids, the Commission decision aims to reduce the risk that fipronil pose to bees by reducing bee exposure to the product, but it does not address the overall improvement of bee health. Only broader measures, such as a comprehensive review of the agricultural model, using agro-ecology as a box of alternative solutions, by instance, would aim to reach overall improvement of pollinator health.
(1) European Commission Press Release
(2) Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance fipronil
(3) Facts and figures for an informed opinion on fipronil.
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