The use of neonicotinoids will be restricted across Europe, it has been announced.
The ruling by the European Commission follows months of campaigning by groups including the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth, which feared the impact neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide, were having on the UK’s bee population.
It means three types, clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid, are now suspended for seed treatment, soil application (granules) and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals. Although voting among European member states did not reach the majority required, the decision is now in the hands of the European Commission.
Tonio Borg, Health and Consumer Commissioner, said: “Although a majority of Member States now supports our proposal, the necessary qualified majority was not reached. The decision now lies with the Commission. Since our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission will go ahead with its text in the coming weeks. I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over £22 billion annually to European agriculture, are protected.”
Emma Hockeridge, Head of Policy at the Soil Association, commented: “This is a victory, not only for the bees and other pollinators, but for independent science against the political, pro-pesticide position adopted by the UK Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, and the pesticide industry. The European Commission and many European governments have reacted responsibly to the British and European scientific evidence showing clearly that a suspension is justified.”
Organic farming proves that systemic insecticides such as neonicotinoids are not needed to produce food. Also, there is strong evidence that a ban on neonicotinoids would work. In Italy, where the Government has taken decisive action and banned certain neonicotinoids pesticides, deaths of honey bees in winter subsequently fell by more then 50 per cent in three years.”
One study found that levels of pesticides that bees come into contact with impacts on the information in the brain. One of the authors of the study, Dr Christopher Connolly, from the University of Dundee, commented: “This study shows for the first time the effect of field-relevant concentrations (3 ppb) of neonicotinoid pesticides and an organophosphate miticide on honeybee brain function. Both prevent information flow in the major learning centre of the honeybee brain. There is clearly a major brain dysfunction in response to these compounds and this is supported by behavioural research from Newcastle University (Wright study 2013).”
The ruling comes just a month after the EC failed to pass a vote on a two-year ban on neonicotinoids due to the abstention of DEFRA, which said there was a lack of evidence supporting the claims.
|The newly appointed Chairman of a European organisation has vowed to continue to push for positive discussions with regulators.
Alban Maggiar has been elected to the top job at the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM). Maggiar has been president of EHPM’s French member, SYNADIET, since 2005 and a member of EHPM’s board since 2008, where he has served with distinction as Treasurer and Vice President.
Through his roles with SYNADIET and EHPM, Maggiar has extensive experience in engaging in constructive dialogue with the European Institutions and national regulators.
“As Chairman, I look forward to engaging in a constructive relationship with the European institutions and industry stakeholders,” Maggiar said. “Positive dialogue can and will secure a regulatory structure for our industry that facilitates its continued growth.”
The new Chairman believes emphasis should be placed on utilising the expertise of EHPM’s national members.
“Within our member associations, there is a vast wealth of expertise on the regulatory issues being tackled in Brussels such as botanicals, health claims, quality and safety. Through dedicated working groups, this expertise will be fed into the EU regulatory process,” he commented.
“As an association, you are only as strong as your members and EHPM has very strong members. As Chairman, I intend to make the best use possible of this strength.”
He also called for more support of SMEs, of which there are many within the industry.
He commented: “Our sector is composed mainly of SMEs. The European Parliament, Commission and national governments regularly cite SMEs as the driving force of the European economy. For SMEs to flourish, regulatory requirements need to be digestible. It is my passionately held view that effective regulation and SME-friendly regulation go hand in hand and is in the interests of both consumers and industry.”
As well as the election of a new Chairman, three new board members joined EHPM; Harald Dittmar, from the German association BDIH, Dr Antonino Santoro, from the Italian Association FEDERSALUS, and Magdalini Selanikli, from the Greek association AFIM. These join a number of other existing board members, including Martin Last, from the UK’s Health Food Manufacturers’ Association.