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Commissioner: 'decisive action' needed to protect beesqrcode

Jan. 31, 2013

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Jan. 31, 2013
The European Commission has responded to findings by EU health watchdog EFSA that demonstrate neonicotinoid pesticides present an "unacceptable" risk to insect pollinators. The Commission promised to produce "stringent" measures to protect pollinators, which are in decline across Europe, with bees being particularly badly affected.

However, the EU legislators stopped short of banning the controversial pesticides outright. Over the past year a number of environmental groups have called for a total ban on the insecticides, and the governments of Germany, France and Italy have introduced strict restrictions and prohibited use of certain products.

Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Tonio Borg announced on Monday (28 January) that his office will take decisive action to mitigate the threat to pollinators. He made the announcement to agriculture ministers gathered at an EU Farm Council meeting in Brussels, but qualified his statements, adding that EU-wide measures introduced by the Commission would be "proportional".

The Commissioner clarified that "a total ban would not be justified." Borg's office will now contact agribusinesses Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, the EU's principal manufacturers of neonicotinoids.

A spokesperson said the Commission will take "necessary measures," if the companies do not prove amenable to its suggestions; in the past both manufacturers have denied that their products affect bees, claiming declines are the result of disease and loss of habitat. Commissioner Borg said on Monday that, "Whilst the health of our bees may be threatened by other factors, we must take decisive action where appropriate."

Although an industry report published just one day before the EFSA's findings estimated neonicotinoids are worth £630 million to UK farmers each year, figures from 2012 suggest the activities of pollinating insects are worth over three times more to farmers, at an estimated £1.8 billion per year. Upon its release, the Pesticide Action Network moved to discredit the industry report, pointing out that none of the dystopian effects promised by the authors have come to pass in Italy, which has banned neonicotinoids.

More details of the Commission's legislative proposals will be forthcoming. EFSA is set to release a more in-depth version of its review of evidence on neonicotinoids shortly, and the Authority will also produce new guidelines for risk assessing the effects of the pesticides on bees in May.
Source: Farming UK


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