Controversy over EU approval of insecticide

The European Commission has authorised the use of the broad-sprectrum insecticide cyantraniliprole (Cyazypyr, Benevia, Exirel) for 10 years despite warnings from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that it could pose a "high risk" to honeybees.

Whitefly - image: Eran Finkle (CC BY 2.0)
Whitefly - image: Eran Finkle (CC BY 2.0)

Intended for use against chewing and sucking pests such as whitefly, thrips, aphids, fruit flies and psyllids, the chemical will be approved for use on crops across the EU between 14 September 2016 and 14 September 2026, depending on a number of conditions.

In line with the EU Plant Protection Products Regulation, the Commission has asked member states to monitor effects of cyantraniliprole on bees, bumblebees, aquatic organisms and groundwater quality, which are all areas of concern previously flagged up by EFSA.

The Commission admitted that "mitigation measures" may be necessary if member states find there are negative impacts on bees.

The EU regulatory go-ahead of cyantraniliprole marks the end of a five-year process. In 2011, pesticide firms DuPont and Syngenta submitted an application to the UK government to use the chemical.

The decision was then considered by EFSA, which found that overall the substance was "appropriate for use". But it highlighted a number of concerns in a report drafted between 2014 and 2015.

EFSA warned that the gaps it found in the existing data meant it could not exclude the possibility of a high risk to honeybees if the insecticide was used on fruit crops such as apples and grapes.

The agency also said it could not confirm whether cyantraniliprole residues posed a risk to groundwater quality as there was a lack of scientific data in this area as well.

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK director Keith Tyrell said the Commission "are openly anticipating there will be problems yet they're willing to authorise the insecticide anyway".

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