The Directorate General for Health (DG Sante) of the European Commission has confirmed today that EU Member States will be invited to vote on its proposal to ban all outdoor uses of neonicotinoids on 27 April. Based on the conclusions from November 2016 from the European Food Safety Authority, DG Sante is finally putting to a vote its March 2017 aiming to protecting bees.
Since their approval at EU-level in the 90’s, neonicotinoids have been largely proven to harm honey bees, other pollinators and the environment as a whole. Several studies also indicate toxicity on human health.
After years of battle from beekeepers and environmentalists, the European Commission restricted the use of 3 highly bee-toxic neonicotinoids in 2013. Imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam were then banned on bee-attractive crops.
Since then, evidence showed that even application of neonicotinoids on non-bee-attractive crops led to exposure of bees as these substances are highly persistent in the environment. Based on industry data, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in November 2016 new reports highlighting that there is no safe use for bees for these 3 insecticides. Based on these conclusions, DG Sante sent to the Member States a proposal to ban all outdoor uses for these 3 substances in March 2017. Since then, Member States were dragging their feet to support DG Sante’s proposal and several asked to wait for a new EFSA report on new scientific evidence on the toxicity of neonicotinoids to bees. The EFSA published the report in February 2018. DG Sante’s proposal was discussed in the March 2018 Standing Committee on phytopharmaceuticals but no vote took place. Instead of waiting for the next planned meeting on phytopharmaceuticals (24 May), the European Commission decided to speed up the process and present the proposal to a vote in another Standing Committee meeting on 27 April.
Martin Dermine, PAN Europe’s Health and environment policy officer said: ‘The European Commission is finally taking a strong measure to protect bees, butterflies and the entire environment. Authorising neonicotinoids during a quarter of a century was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Member States now have no choice but to back the Commission’s proposal for the sake of our environment’.
PAN Europe is a member of the Save the Bees Coalition, a coalition gathering more than 100 EU NGOs acting at EU and national levels to obtain a ban on neonicotinoids.
Contact PAN Europe, Martin Dermine, +32 486 32 99 92, martin [at] pan-europe.info