Neonicotinoids: another missed opportunity for the EU to show its true engagement for pollinators

On the 3rd day of the Pesticide Action Week[1], EU Member States are gathering today in the Standing Committee on phytopharmaceuticals to discuss about the toxicity of neonicotinoids on bees. The European Commission’s 12 months old regulation proposal to ban neonicotinoids will, again, not be voted upon by Member States. The EU is here sadly showing once again the little ambition it has to effectively protect pollinators.

In March 2017, the European Commission’s DG Sante sent to Member States a draft regulation[2] to ban all outdoor uses of neonicotinoids. This ban proposal was based on a November 2016 assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The Authority analysed ‘confirmatory data’ from Bayer and Syngenta on the toxicity of their neonicotinoids to bees. For Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin, no safe use could be identified by the EFSA while for thiamethoxam (Syngenta), the data provided were insufficient to carry out a proper risk assessment. These 3 substances thus do not meet the safety requirements for bees and had to be banned.

Since March 2017, the Commission’s ban proposal was never voted upon by the EU Member States in comitology. It was even very little discussed as several Member States deliberately blocked the process, arguing they wished to wait for the results of (one more) assessment from the EFSA of new scientific evidence on the toxicity of neonicotinoids on bees.

In February 2018, the EFSA published its scientific opinion on the new scientific data on the toxicity of neonicotinoids to bees[3]. The assessment by the agency once again confirmed the high risk posed by these substances on bees and that no safe use existed.

Martin Dermine, PAN Europe’s pollinators campaigner said: ‘Two days ago, a new French study pointed at pesticides as being the main cause of the dramatic decline of farmland birds in France[4]. We are facing a massive environmental catastrophe: no more bees, no more butterflies, no more insects and no more insectivorous birds. The European Commission and the Member States keep favouring the agribusiness than protecting pollinators and wildlife. Member States are constantly postponing a necessary ban on neonics with the blessing of the European Commission. The EFSA November 2016 assessment shows there is no safe use of neonics for bees. By not imposing a vote to Member States today, the European Commission fails to be the guardian of the Treaties by once again postponing a proper protection of bees and other insects”.


Contact: PAN Europe, Martin Dermine, +32 486 32 99 92, martin [at]






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