29 April 2013. European ban on neonicotinoids: Historic victory for the environment
PAN Europe warmly welcomes the vote of European Member States in favour of the proposal of the European Commission to ban 3 neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin) toxic to bees for 2 years. After nearly 20 years of fight of beekeepers and environmentalists, this historical vote is a strong signal given by Europe on environmental protection.
PAN Europe congratulates DG Sanco for its perseverance to maintain its ban proposal as it originally was, despite the incredible pressures it received from Bayer and Syngenta as well as the nasty game played by countries such as Germany, UK, Hungary or Austria. These countries have developed huge efforts to undermine the proposal of the Commission and to gather a majority of Member States in favour of a modified proposal filled with exemptions possibilities that would have watered down the effect of the proposed ban.
PAN Europe nevertheless would like to stress that the proposal voted today does not go far enough to protect the environment:
- These toxic chemicals will still be authorised on winter cereals and even though cereals are not attractive to bees, ground will be contaminated and growing the next year, for instance, sunflowers on this contaminated soil would expose bees to toxic nectar.
- EFSA reported potential risk to bumblebees and wild bees nesting in the ground due to soil contamination. By authorising the use of seed coating with these chemicals on winter cereals, European Commission avoids protecting wild pollinators, despite recent publications indicating their services are of major importance , .
- Degradation time (half-life) of these chemicals can take years and thus after the 2 years ban, the environment will not be free of these chemicals and no conclusions will be possibly drawn on their responsibility in honeybee colony losses.
- Thiacloprid and acetamiprid, 2 neonicotinoids that are less toxic to bees but are used in higher doses are not banned, their use will thus increase to replace forbidden neonicotinoids, so honeybee colony die offs could continue.
For these reasons, PAN Europe asks Commission to go further and ban all neonicotinoids for a period of 10 years in order to efficiently clarify their role in the massive disappearance of honeybees in Europe.
2. Plant-pollinator interactions over 120 years: loss of species, co-occurrence, and function. Burkle LA, Marlin JC, Knight TM. Science. 2013 Mar 29;339(6127):1611-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1232728 . Epub 2013 Feb 28.