How agrobusiness and Member States join forces to maintain bee-toxic pesticides on the market

In the 16-17 July meeting of the Standing Committee on phytopharmaceuticals, a majority of Member States have shown how little ambitious they are to protect bees against toxic pesticides. Several decisions took place, highlighting how the agro-business is present in the Standing Committee through the voice of too many Member States. Today, Member States have voted in favour of a plan proposed by the European Commission, to delay a major upgrade of the protection of bees against pesticides while Member State refused to support a Commission proposal to forbid the provision of derogations for neonicotinoids by Romania and Lithuania. While insect populations are collapsing and despite pro-bees declarations, EU Member States are forcing the European Commission to kneel down before the interests of the agro-industry.

Several decisive issues have been discussed during the July meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (phytopharmaceuticals). Firstly, a majority of Member States have voted in favour of the proposal by the European Commission to implement a very small section of the Bee Guidance Document (BGD) that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published in 2013. The BGD was written by the EFSA to upgrade the evaluation of the risk posed by pesticides to bees as the former protocol was not efficient enough to prevent bee-toxic pesticides such as neonicotinoids to arrive on the market. Six years after its publication, very little progress has thus been made.

Martin Dermine, a policy officer at PAN Europe said: “During many years, this guidance document was either not at the agenda of Standing Committee meetings or was rejected by Member States as they feared too many pesticides would be removed from the market. This is a form of acknowledgement that pesticides currently on the market are too toxic to bees. Evidence shows that even fungicides and herbicides damage bees!”.

The European Commission thus had no other choice but to make a minimalistic proposal to Member States, to adopt a very small portion of the new Guidance Document related to acute toxicity testing while the rest of the BGD will not be implemented before the EFSA is reviewing the BGD.

Martin Dermine to add: “Pesticide industry lobbyists together with pro-industrial agriculture Member States did a terrible job. They thus put the Commission in an uncomfortable position as the most up to date scientific knowledge will not be used before at least 3 years, contrary to what the law demands. Bee toxic pesticides will stay on the market! Refusing to implement the Bee Guidance Document is simply illegal.”.

Confirming their hypocritical stance, Member States have refused today to support a Commission implementing decision to impede Romania and Lithuania to keep abusing the derogation system by giving year after year an emergency authorisation to neonicotinoids, thus circumventing the ban to protect bees.

Martin Dermine to conclude “76% of Member States backed the 2018 EU ban on neonicotinoids but when it comes to respecting the ban or going further by assessing all pesticides the way neonicotinoids were assessed, Member States stand on the side of the agro-business, thus raising the indignation of citizens and giving more fuel to populistic and extremist political parties. This is a sad day for EU pollinators!”


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


© Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.