Commission moves to protect honeybees but not bumblebees and wild bugs

Brussels

19 years after the first massive honeybee colony losses reported by beekeepers on imidacloprid-treated sunflower crops in France, the European Commission finally declared its intention to move concerning neonicotinoids. Pesticide Action Network Europe welcomes this big step in the good direction and this acknowledgment of the work carried out for many years by beekeepers organizations and environmentalist NGO’s.

In reaction to the European Food Safety Authority’s recent reports on neonicotinoids [1], Commission proposes to Member States a 2-years ban on imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Unfortunately, this will only apply to bee-attractive crops. It will surely improve honeybees’ health across Europe but PAN-Europe thinks this is not enough to protect bees and the environment.

In fact, the EFSA reports stated that one of the risks linked to neonicotinoids is based on dust production during sawing of the coated seeds. This risk is present for all crops, not only bee-attractive ones. Bees can directly be contaminated by toxic dust or dust can contaminate other crops, soils, surface water or wild flowers.

Furthermore, EFSA states that risk posed by neonicotinoids on bumblebees and the environment is not well known [2]. Several studies have proven that these chemicals have also harmful effects on bumblebees [3]. Maintaining the authorisation to use neonicotinoids on, e.g., potatoes will surely continue to harm bumblebees who feed on potatoes’ pollen.

In the same way, contaminated soils by granules of neonicotinoids one year can host bee-attractive crops the second year and EFSA acknowledges there is an unknown risk to bees that Commission does not take into account in its proposal.

We thus invite the Commission to go further in this good direction by proposing a full ban on neonicotinoids in order to protect honeybees and other essential insects, by applying the precautionary principle, according to what is stated in pesticide regulation 1107/2009.

3. Neonicotinoid pesticide reduces bumble bee colony growth and queen production. Whitehorn PR, O'Connor S, Wackers FL, Goulson D. Science. 2012 Apr 20;336(6079):351-2. doi: 10.1126/science.1215025. Epub 2012 Mar 29.
Effects of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, on reproduction in worker bumble bees (Bombus terrestris). Laycock I, Lenthall KM, Barratt AT, Cresswell JE. Ecotoxicology. 2012 Oct;21(7):1937-45. doi: 10.1007/s10646-012-0927-y. Epub 2012 May 22.

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Further information

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Martin Dermine, Tel: +324 86329992, martin [at] pan-europe.info

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