Statement on European proposal to restrict key crop protection technology
The European Commission proposal to ban neonicotinoids failed for a second time to win a necessary majority April 29. The decision on whether to implement the ban now rests with the Commission.
The European proposal was made by politicians, not scientists. And the weight of scientific evidence shows no correlation between bee health and the use of neonicotinoids. For example, in Australia, where neonicotinoids are widely used, bees are thriving; yet in Switzerland, where there is little use of these products, bee health is generally poor. Unlike Europe, regulators in the United States and Canada make registration decisions based on a framework of sound science.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) review, on which the proposal is based, was hurried, incomplete and failed to take into account years of field monitoring, mitigation efforts, real-life applications and sound scientific studies of neonicotinoids and their impact on bees and other pollinators.
The real risks to bee health include many factors, principally the parasitic Varroa mite, viruses carried by mites, loss of suitable habitats and nutrition , the fungus Nosema ceranae and other diseases. Unusual weather conditions and hive management and other beekeeping practices also can affect bee health.
Agriculture is our business. We know how essential healthy bee populations, and the pollination services they provide, are to a thriving agricultural system. And the science shows clearly that bees and other pollinators can coexist safely with modern agricultural technology, like neonicotinoids.
Thiamethoxam and other neonicotinoid insecticides have been used safely around the world for many years. Restricting their use would do little to improve bee health, but could lead to devastating crop damage, reductions in yield and force farmers to go back to using older, less environmentally friendly insecticides.