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Bee gathering nectar. Photo: Jack Wolf via Flickr.
Bee gathering nectar. Photo: Jack Wolf via Flickr.
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Victory! Syngenta pulls 'bee-killer' pesticide application

The Ecologist

4th July 2014

Blaming 'lack of time', Syngenta withdraws its emergency application to use a seed treatment blamed for killing bees. Friends of the Earth and 38 Degrees claim victory - but Syngenta warns: we'll be back!

The whole issue has been heavily politicised and manipulated with misinformation by campaign groups with their own agenda against pesticide use.

Agro-chemical, seed and GMO company Syngenta has withdrawn a controversial "emergency application" to use a neonicotinoid insecticide branded a "bee killer" by environmental groups.

The company had wanted to use its 'Cruiser' insecticide as a seed treatment on oilseed rape crops to be planted this autumn for harvest next year, in order to prevent crop damage by the cabbage stem flea beetle and other pests.

However this use is banned under a two-year EU moratorium on the use of 'neonic' pesticides on flowering plants, which began in April 2013.

The ban is intended to protect bees and other pollinators that can consume the poison in the nectar produced by treated plants.

Thank heavens for that!

Many scientists, and environmental campaign groups, believe widespread decline in bee populations across Europe and the USA is in large part caused by the increasing use of 'neonic' insecticides, which are long lived in the environment and are toxic to a wide range of insects and other animals.

Friends of the Earth, which has been opposing Syngenta's application, welcomed the move. "Our under-threat bees can breathe a bit easier this evening", said Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton.

"We're delighted Syngenta has withdrawn this application - the scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to bee decline is stacking up."

In a campaign organised by FoE, more than 6,000 people wrote to Bees Minister Lord de Mauley since Friday 27 June asking him to uphold the ban on pesticides to protect bees.

Environmental groups including FoE, Buglife, the Pesticide Action Network, the Soil Association and the Environmental Justice Foundation also wrote this week to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to refuse Sygenta's application.

And a 38 Degrees petition gathered a mammoth 202,926 signatures before it reached the Prime Minister's desk.

Farmers are furious

Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, said: "This loss of this treatment will make it more complicated to grow oilseed rape this season. The NFU will closely monitor the effects with a view to supporting a further application next year."

"It is also of concern that that the whole issue has been heavily politicised and manipulated with misinformation by campaign groups with their own agenda against pesticide use."

He added that the environmental campaigners were "without concern for the consequences for this country's productive capacity or indeed for the potential unintended consequences for bee populations."

Syngenta - We'll be back!

According to Syngenta, the Advisory Committee on Pesticides had indicated that the criteria for emergency use of 'Cruiser' had been met, but there had been "insufficient time to conclude on the conditions for verifying and auditing planting locations which were specific to this limited use application."

However the company "welcomed the fact that the UK government will be assessing the establishment of the crop in the UK this season in the first year in which growers will be unable to use the seed dressing" and will consider making a new application for the 2015-16 growing season.



See also: Neonicotinoids are poisoning entire farmland ecosystems.


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