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Daily News Blog

28
Aug

EU Food Safety Watchdog Confirms Neonicotinoids Harmful to Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2015) The European Union’s food safety agency confirmed Wednesday that foliar spraying of neonicotinoids (neonics), the widely-used bee-toxic insecticides, poses a risk to bees, bolstering previous research that led to a two-year moratorium on the chemicals in the EU.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which guides EU policymakers, said leaf spray containing three neonicotinoid pesticides — clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam — could harm bees. Previous research found that these chemicals pose a risk as seed treatments or granules, which prompted the European Commission to limit their use in  December 1, 2013. The use of the three neonicotinoid substances in seed or soil treatments is prohibited in the European Union for crops attractive to bees and for cereals other than winter cereals except in greenhouses.

“They (the EFSA conclusions) confirm that the Commission was correct to take precautionary measures in 2013,” a Brussels-based EU executive said in a statement.

Neonicotinoids have been found by  a growing body of scientific literature  to be linked to honey bee and pollinator decline. Recently, a  study  performed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in the United Kingdom provides evidence confirming the link between neonicotinoid pesticides and continually increasing honey bee colony losses on a landscape level.  Along with recent reports and studies highlighting the role these chemicals play in pollinator decline, there is evidence that the use of neonicotinoids are not efficacious or even necessary in agriculture. Earlier this month, figures for the first oilseed rape harvest since the European-wide ban was introduced show that the yield so far is higher than the average for the previous decade, when the chemicals were used on the majority of oilseed rape grown in the UK.   In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report  concluding that soybean  seed treatments with neonicotinoid insecticides provide little or no overall benefits in controlling insects or improving yield or quality in soybean production.  The seed treatment market has more than tripled in size between 1990 and 2005, with neonicotinoids making up 77 percent of the market share.

“Questions need to be asked about how these products were ever approved for use,” said Paul de Zylva, a campaigner at the environmental group Friends of the Earth in the UK. The group this month launched a legal challenge to a British decision to allow some farmers to use neonicotinoids after the UK won an exemption from the EU restrictions.

As part of a two-year review process, EFSA has asked national authorities, research institutions and other interested parties to submit new relevant information by Sept. 30. Based  on an evaluation of the information, the Commission says it could change the rules.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach  that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Although EPA  announced  a moratorium on new bee- and bird- harming neonicotinoid pesticide products and uses, farm, beekeeper and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow in EU’s footsteps and suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market.  We suggest an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on  safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as  organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids. See how  you can  help through  Bee Protective.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides

Source: Reuters

 

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  • Archives

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