Syngenta and Bayer, large scale manufacturers of neonic insecticides, are lobbying strongly for the EU’s temporary ban on neonics to be overturned and are even threatening to sue EU officials involved in the publication of a report which led to the ban.
Although neonic pesticides have been implicated in damage to bee colonies, those campaigning against the ban say that without these pesticides there would be a drop in agricultural productivity.
Syngenta has begun an aggressive defence of its products, demanding that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) hand over all documents, including hand-written notes, and the names of all people involved in the EFSA anti-neonic report that led to the temporary ban.
The UK has opposed the EU ban with the UK’s chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport describing the ban:
“This plan is motivated by a quite understandable desire to save the beleaguered bee and concern about a serious decline in other important pollinator species, but it is based on a misreading of the currently available evidence.”
As spokesperson for Syngenta says:
“No evidence from the field has ever been presented that these pesticides actually damage bee health, with the case against them resting on a few studies which identify some highly theoretical risks. Regardless of the outcome, we will continue our work with anyone who shares our goal of improving bee health, which is vital for sustainable agriculture as well as the future of our business.”
Syngenta and Bayer have warned that a ban on neonics would lead to a return to older, more environmentally-damaging pesticides and crop losses. However France, Germany and Italy have already had periods of neonic bans and have found that using other pesticide control methods such as crop rotation and natural pest predators can work well.
Those campaigning in support of retaining and extending the EU bans say that potential crop losses are not nearly as serious as the potential loss of whole colonies of bees, agriculture’s most important pollinator.
More at The Guardian UK