The Crop Protection Association has expressed its disappointment at the European Commissions plans to push for a temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides following EU Member States failure to reach a qualified majority at todays Appeal Committee meeting.
CPA chief executive Nick von Westenholz said the Commissions decision to push for a ban was at odds with field-based research which found no evidence of harmful effects on bees when neonicotinoids are used under field conditions.
Instead, the Commission has relied on laboratory-based studies which do not replicate realistic conditions of exposure or dose rates.
Mr von Westenholz warned that any restrictions on neonicotinoid use could have serious consequences for agriculture and food production, with no corresponding benefits for bee health.
A ban on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments would be unlikely to improve bee health, but would remove a key crop protection technology which is vital for economically and environmentally sustainable crop production in the UK and across Europe. Recent research suggests that banning neonicotinoid seed treatments could cost the UK economy up to 630 million, he said.
The Commissions decision to press ahead with a ban, without a political mandate and on poor scientific evidence, placing perception of hazard before evidence of risk, sets a potentially damaging precedent for EU regulatory decision-making. It also sends an extremely negative signal to R&D-based companies across the European agri-food sector.
This decision is also directly at odds with the objectives set out for the UK Governments planned Agri-Tech Strategy, which seeks to boost the production efficiency and competitiveness of UK producers. Removing key technologies such as this without sound scientific evidence isnt a good place to start.
Extensive scientific and field-based evidence points to the Varroa mite and parasitic diseases, combined with the problems associated with habitat loss, colony stress and climate change, as the key factors implicated in declining bee populations.
The crop protection industry recognises the critical importance of bees as pollinators for agriculture and food production. It is vital that the causes of bee health problems are properly understood, and our industry actively supports ongoing research and stewardship programmes aimed at protecting bee health.
Campaigns to blame the nearest chemical must not deflect research effort and resource away from these environmental, pest and disease issues which together present the major underlying challenges to bee health, he said.