Leading pesticide companies cry foul over EU neonic decision
Major European crop protection companies Bayer and Syngenta have slammed the decision by EU Member States to restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids ('neonics') in greenhouses.
The move followed conclusions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) earlier this year that three types of neonics were a threat to bee populations.
In a release, Syngenta said the decision was "disappointing, but not unexpected" while Bayer described it as not only a bad deal for the European agricultural sector but also the environment.
Germany-based Bayer claimed restricting these pesticides would "not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators".
"The decision will further reduce European farmers' ability to tackle important pests, for many of which there are no alternative treatments available," Bayer said.
"Bayer remains convinced that the restrictions are not warranted, because neonicotinoids are safe when used in accordance with the label instructions.
"Even under the extremely conservative evaluation criteria of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, the most recent bee risk assessment reports (1) did not find high risks for many neonicotinoid uses where a definitive risk conclusion could be drawn; in those cases, only low risks were found for honey bees, and for wild bees the risk was also found to be low in the majority of cases."
Bayer said it was, " once again, legislative measures are being implemented without a prior thorough impact assessment".
"Beyond the costs for European farmers, the restrictions in place have already brought considerable unintended consequences: a lack of alternative solutions; more spray applications, leading to more CO2 emissions; an increased risk of resistant pest insects; and a return to older, less-effective chemicals," the company said.
"Numerous recent studies, inter alia by the Joint Resource Centre of the European Commission (2), have highlighted the impact of these restrictions.
"As it currently stands, the European crop protection industry will not be able to offer any registered seed treatments or soil-applied insecticides that could replace the current use patterns of imidacloprid and clothianidin."
Syngenta said the European Commission's reliance on an "unapproved regulatory document" to propose a further ban on the chemicals was "not sound and will not address the challenges we face in ensuring safe and reliable food supply while also taking care of the environment".
"In fact, the Bee Risk Guidance Document is so conservative and so far removed from the reality of agriculture that its application would see most, if not all agricultural chemicals banned, including for example, those used in organic agriculture," Syngenta said.
The Swiss Company emphasized that being able to constantly improve chemistry and develop products such as neonicotinoids, it could help farmers continue to protect their crops from insects and weeds, while minimizing the impact on the environment and on human health.
"What we need today, more than ever before, is for farmers to ensure the supply of safe and affordable food – while minimizing the negative impact and amplifying the positive effects that agriculture has on the environment," the Swiss company said.
"The evidence clearly shows that neonicotinoids pose a minimum threat to bee health compared to a lack of food, diseases and cold weather.
"Technology and other related advances can benefit all farming systems. All farmers, whether large or small, conventional or organic, can be more productive while conserving scarce resources, protecting nature and improving biodiversity."
Syngenta also drew attention to its program Operation Pollinator, which it claims has positively impacted more than five million hectares of arable land globally since 2001.
"And we will continue to rely on our more than 100,000 bee hives in Europe and around the world to pollinate our seeds for production," the group said.