Friday, 4 July 2014

Bees and pesticides: withdrawl of neonicotinoid

There has been a lot of concern about bees and pesticides:
Futures Forum: Bees and pesticides: the research ... and the need for more research

One agrochemical company has had to comply with EU regulations, despite the UK governments efforts at 'derogation'.

The story has been covered in regional, national and specialist media:
UKIP Independence Party North Cornwall News And Support: Sign A Petition To Save Our Bees
Banned pesticide withdrawal welcomed | Mail Online
Syngenta withdraws application to use banned pesticide linked to bee harm | Environment | theguardian.com
Syngenta withdraws application to use banned bee-killing pesticide - Blue and Green Tomorrow
38 Degrees | Blog | Bees 1: Syngenta 0

This report is from the Farmers Guardian:

Syngenta withdraws neonicotinoid emergency use application

3 July 2014 | By Alistair Driver

SYNGENTA has withdrawn an an application for the emergency use of its neonicotinoid seed treatment on winter oilseed rape in the UK, after failing to gain Government approval in time to put the derogation in place.

The company applied for what would effectively have been a derogation from the EU ban on neonicotinoids earlier this year. It would have allowed UK farmers to plant 180,600 hectares of its Cruiser OSR this autumn, under strict conditions.

Defra’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides confirmed back in May the criteria for an emergency authorisation had been met. But by the middle of this week the Government, despite Defra Secretary Owen Paterson seemingly being in favour of the derogation, had still not made a decision.

Syngenta had been warning over the past week or so, that with an early planting season expected, it needed a decision by the end of June to put the emergency use option in place, given the various conditions surrounding it.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon the company said, following an assessment of the current planting schedule for growers, it has decided to withdraw its application. However, the company has signalled to try again next year.

“Whilst the Advisory Committee on Pesticides has indicated that the criteria for emergency use has been met, there has been insufficient time to concludeon the conditions for verifying and auditing planting locations which were specific to this limited use application,” the statement said.
Effective stewardship

“In making the application, Syngenta was clear that in order to supply the product to British farmers and, importantly, to ensure its effective stewardship, an approval from government was required by the end of June. As the first year in which farmers will be unable to use neonicotinoid treated seed for winter oil seed rape, we welcome the fact that the government will be assessing the establishment of the crop in the UK this season. Based on this assessment, Syngenta will consider making a new application for the 2015/16 season to ensure British farmers have access to a technology which helps them to grow crops sustainably and which is safe for bees.

“We also welcome the fact that the government’s opposition to the EU-wide restriction of neonicotinoid pesticides remains unchanged.

“More broadly, Syngenta remains supportive of the government’s National Pollinator Strategy and fully intends to continue our work with farmers to provide food and habitat for bees, which is the key driver for their long term health, through Operation Pollinator.”

It is understood the decision on whether to grant the application had been on the agenda for discussion at Cabinet level.


Guy Smith, NFU vice president, said the NFU was ‘disappointed’ Syngenta has withdraw applicationn and expressed frustration that the Government had been unable to make a decision in the timeframe required.

“It is very frustrating that, after the Advisory Committee on Pesticides had indicated that the conditions for approval had been met, it was not possible for a decision to be made in time for Syngenta to prepare seeds for this year’s planting,” he said. “It is also of concern that the whole issue has been heavily politicised and manipulated with misinformation by campaign groups with their own agenda against pesticide use, without concern for the consequences for this country’s productive capacity or indeed for the potential unintended consequences for bee populations. This loss of this treatment will make it more complicated to grow oilseed rape this season. The NFU will closely monitor the effects with a view to supporting a further application next year.”

The Agricultural Industries Confederation also expressed its disappointment but said it recognised the ‘finite timeline in which to gain the approval and implement effective stewardship safeguards’ the supply companies would been required to do.

Paul Rooke, head of AIC’s seed sector, said: “The result is that planting this autumn will see oilseed rape seed being drilled without the proven protection against pests that neonicotinoid products have offered in recent years. We hope that the Government will monitor crops during the coming season to evaluate the impact on crop growth and ultimately yield of one of the UK’s major crops. As ever, AIC is committed to decisions based on sound science rather than political idealogy or public scaremongering.”

But Emma Hockridge, Soil Association head of policywelcomed the move, describing it as a ‘victory for pollinators and for science’ There was no good reason for allowing this derogation and the impact could have been catastrophic. A global assessment on systemic pesticides recently highlighted 800 peer reviewed studies which highlights the risks to birds, earthworms and other pollinators as well as bees,” she said.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “Our under-threat bees can breathe a bit easier this evening. We’re delighted Syngenta has withdrawn this application – the scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to bee decline is stacking up.”

Readers' comments (7)

Dr Ulrich Loening | 4 July 2014 12:36 pm

Both the NFU and those who oppose the use of neonics blame the Governments stance for being politically motivated, over-riding the science. It all depends on which science: that about the brilliant invention of new stable systemic insecticides that do the job successfully so that farmers have come to depend on them, and the science of the impacts on the wider environment. The former science says use them and the latter say don't. 

What if the inventiona had never been achieved? Oil seed rape has been grown for decades successfully without neonics. It's time for more other methods to be developed. One could even use nicotine, on which the neonics are based, by putting some waste tobacco leaves in the spray container, fill up with slightly soapy water, and spray before and after flowering; but this simple effective and safe method is illegal, because nicotine is poisonous! 

There are lots of cultivation approaches that minimise pest infestations. The most comprehensive common-sense science says that one cannot expect neonics to be safe, because they are stable, work at extremely low concentrations, and are systemic and cumulative through both plant and environment. How could they possibly not be harmful?

Syngenta withdraws neonicotinoid emergency use application | News | Farmers Guardian

This is the home page of Syngenta, who are considering reapplying next year:

A comprehensive action plan proposed for bee health

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience have proposed an action plan to help unlock the EU stalemate on bee health. This follows the failure of the European Commission to reach agreement with Member States on an appropriate response to EFSA’s report on the theoretical risk to bee health from neonicotinoid pesticides.
Syngenta COO John Atkin said: “This comprehensive plan will bring valuable insights into the area of bee health, whereas a ban on neonicotinoids would simply close the door to understanding the problem. Banning these products would not save a single hive and it is time that everyone focused on addressing the real causes of declining bee populations. The plan is based on our confidence in the safety of our products and on our historical commitment to improving the environment for bees.” → > Read the media release

Study reveals no link between neonics and bee health

A new study has been published by the UK Government that confirms that there is no significant link between neonics and bumble bees.> Read more

Understanding the problem

There is a lot of publicity throughout Europe blaming pesticides called neonicotinoids for the decline in honey bees and other pollinators.
However, neonicotinoids are some of the most effective forms of crop protection technology available and have been used safely across millions of hectares of European crops. Many years of independent monitoring prove that when used properly – as they consistently are – neonicotinoids do not damage the health of bee populations.
It is clear that the honey bee, which is vital to farming and food production, is beset by a range of different and complicated health threats. We have to understand completely what the problems are and what can be done about them. This site is designed to improve this understanding.
Bee Basics

Bee Basics

It is not always easy to tell the difference between bumble bees, honey bees, wasps and other similar flying insects.


What's causing the honey bee deaths we've seen in recent years? Why are so many bees dying, and why have so many bees disappeared?


Summaries of key recent research papers on effect of pesticides on bees.


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