Consumer Group Slams EU Loophole That Undermines Bee-Saving Ban on Neonic Insecticides

July 18, 2018

Ahead of key meeting, more than 78,000 SumOfUs members demand EU stops caving to lobbyists seeking exemptions from neonic ban

Today, the European Commission will meet with member state representatives to scrutinise the use of so-called ‘emergency authorisations’, a loophole that is being used by industry lobbyists to undermine the ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides.

In less than 48 hours, tens of thousands of SumOfUs members across Europe have called on the European Commission to clamp down on the widespread use of  unjust exemptions. They are worried that hard-won protections for bees are hanging on by a thread, putting Europe’s declining bee population at risk.

Ahead of the meeting, Wiebke Schroeder, campaign manager at SumOfUs, based in Berlin explained:

“People across Europe are rallying behind the historic neonic ban to protect bees. We aren’t going to stand by and watch as industry lobbyists use loopholes to wreck all the gains we have made. The EU needs to clamp down on unjust exemptions to protect bees and other pollinators from these toxic pesticides.”

A Europe-wide ban on three major neonicotinoid insecticides was decided in April this year, after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam are a danger to bees.

But the EU Commission leaves the door open to the use of neonicotinoids in cases of emergency. NGOs fear that it has become a way for governments to just ignore the ban on bee-killing pesticides. They say that many of the exemptions have been granted without proper scrutiny and urge the EU Commission to

• > Ask EFSA to reconsider its reports and involve external expertise in order to give due consideration to non-chemical methods of pest control; We recommend to involve the Health and Food Audits and Analysis unit as their expertise in the field of agronomy is more important

• > Acknowledge the overuse of Article 53 in particular with regards to neonicotinoids where it is clearly not used to overcome regulatory issues such as delays in the authorisation in products, a lack of authorisations for minor uses or similar;

• > Systematically reject notifications of poor quality and request that Member States resend complete and detailed notifications; when these remain insufficient the Commission should propose to withdraw the relevant emergency authorisation;

• > Set further, detailed rules for emergency authorisations; these rules should exclude the industry from the process; ensure the application of IPM principles etc.

• > Systematically and immediately publish notifications and any documents related to them on its website.

More than 78,000 people across Europe have signed onto a petition started by SumOfUs calling on the EU Commission to protect the bee-saving ban on neonicotinoid insecticides and stop unjustified exemptions. They say that if the Commission continues to tolerate this practice, the historic ban on the three neonicotinoids won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

View the petition here:

SumOfUs is part of the European wide “Save The Bees Coalition” - a coalition of more than 80 organisations from all across the EU that work together to achieve a full ban on neonicotinoids.

# # #