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5 March 2013. How pesticides industry twist facts and figures to scare European decision-makers on neonicotinoids.

Today the European Landowner Association (ELO),supported by Syngenta, is organising its  6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture, ahuge conference addressed by a number of key speakers with this year catchy title being „Meeting the food and agricultural challenge – Sustainable intensification of food production”. But placing some flowering plots in the centre of Brussels to save pollinators or showing a movie saying honeybee’s problem is pathogens and lack of flowers, not mentioning at all pesticides, does not fool anyone anymore...

PAN Europe would like to draw your attention on how the facts and figures have been twisted to scare European decisions makers while today they want us to believe that they care about the challenges for the future of agriculture.

Syngenta, Bayer, ECPA, ESA and COPA-COGECA have financed the Humboldt “scientific study”  (HFFA 1/2013) on socio-economic impact of neonicotinoids suspension in Europe.The problem with this study is that the baseline is unrealistic and authors ignore reality in several European countries coping without neonicotinoids for years. Side-effects of these insecticides on beneficial insects or effects on human health are not taken into account. The report concludes that a ban on neonicotinoids will result in yield losses of up to 40%, and from this estimation, the authors proceed concluding that this will have many other socio-economical consequences.

1) Does it seem a really realistic estimation when general yield losses in organic farming, meaning no synthetic chemicals at all, is only around 20% lower (see the exact data in our opinion)?

2) Would it be possible to provide a more reliable result by looking at the consequences of the three years ban in the Italian maize area on production and yields? In 2011, the yields were at the same levels – actually slightly higher- than in 2008 (see the Eurostat data in our opinion).

Martin Dermine, PAN Europe Bees project Officer says: "The report, funded by Bayer and Syngenta -among others-, threatens a 17 billion euro loss for agriculture over 5 years; but  what are 3.4 billion euro a year of loss compared to the annual 15 billion euro provided by insect pollination in Europe alone, and on the top of that, need to be added many other environmental and health costs due to the use of pesticides?”

We, therefore encourage European decision makers to be reluctant to these kind of conferences, and to proceed in effectively greening the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as to build on the sustainable use directive to encourage more alternatives to pesticides into the market. The proposed ban on 3 neonicotinoids from European fields would be already a nice step in the right direction but a larger and definitive ban is needed to protect our environment on the long run.


Note to editor

For more details please read our report: PAN Europe opinion on industry Humboldt report 2013


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