Neonicotinoids: EFSA gives a blank cheque to Member States to keep abusing the toxic derogations’ system

Today, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its assessment of derogations[1] provided by EU Member States for the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on sugar beet in 2020. The EFSA has green lit all 17 derogations. The agency has once more done a very poor job and has confirmed its limitations in terms of scientific expertise.

Martin Dermine, bee expert and policy officer at PAN Europe said: “It is the second time the agency has carried out such a low-quality job and despite our requests and proposals to improve their work, it seems favouring bee-toxic pesticides is more important than scientific excellence!”

In 2018, the EFSA had carried out a comparable work[2] related to the provision of derogations for the use of neonicotinoids, which also led to mostly favourable evaluations. For the second time, the agency had asked a series of questions to Member States but failed to carry out a proper investigation on the real need for a derogation at the local level and the existence of alternatives.

Martin Dermine further added: “Evidence shows that Member States neither did their job nor checked the agronomic rationale behind the derogation requests from the industry: of a true danger to crops for which no efficient alternative exists. Member States abuse the derogation system to maintain toxic pesticides on the market for years and now, the EFSA gives a blank cheque to such practices!”.

Following such abuses on derogations, PAN Europe went to Court in Belgium in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and 5 prejudicial questions were sent to the European Court of Justice by the Belgian administrative court in 2021[3].

Martin Dermine concluded: “We truly hope that the Court of Justice of the EU will fix the situation as both EFSA and the Commission have turned a blind eye on the environmental disaster linked to those abuses on the derogation system! Both chemical and non-chemical alternatives to neonicotinoids exist and the approach from EFSA prevents the systemic change we need in agriculture!”


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






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