Neonicotinoid lobbying letters published after Freedom of Information request

Defra has published seven letters from the chemical industry that lobbied the Government to oppose an EU proposed neonicotinoid ban in 2012/13.

In information published this week, Defra said on 19 March 2013, a meeting was convened between a Defra Special Advisor (Guy Robinson) and a representative of Syngenta, which included discussions of bees or other pollinators or neonicotinoid insecticides but no minutes or notes of the meeting were taken. Four phone calls and email followed.

Defra also hold 11 documents linked to the request, and have published four of those communications, letters from Defra in response to communications from Syngenta. The other seven documents were all ‘Official Correspondence’ letters supplied by Syngenta Crop Protection UK to Defra ministers or officials.

Following consideration of Syngenta's views, Defra has published most of the information.

In late April 2013, the EU imposed a two-year moratorium on three neonicotinoids because of concerns about bee health.

  • A letter to Defra minister Jim Paice from Syngenta on 12 June 2012 protests about French plans to ban Cruiser neonicotnoid treatment. A 12 July letter follows up the French ban.
  • A 20 December 2012 Syngenta letter to Defra minister Owen Paterson is on EFSA's view that some neonicotinoid seed treatments "alleged" risk to bee health and the potential loss to farming crops value withdrawl might cost.
  • A 24 January 2013 letter ahead of 28 January EU meeting, Syngenta asks Defra to resist any potential ban adding that maintenance of existing registrations and registering new ones is under threat.
  • An 18 February 2013 pours doubt on EFSA conclusions on neonictinoid risk to bees.
  • A 12 April 2013 letter urges the UK to "show leadership" in developing a more proportionate response.

Further letters on 13 and 25 April include suggestions for an amended system for using neonicotinoids on oil seed rape, sunflowers, cotton and seed treatment for export.

Another FOI request for information on letters or meetings between NFU, Syngenta or Bayer and Defra from 11 May 2015 to 6 October 2015 concerning neonicotinoids found there were no letters but there was a meeting between NFU and Defra on 30 June which discussed the pesticide.

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