Syngenta mounts legal challenge against neonicotinoid withdrawal

Syngenta has mounted a legal challenge against the suspension of neonicotinoids by the European Commission, which the EC decided in May.

Syngenta chief operating officer, John Atkin, said: "We would prefer not to take legal action but have no other choice given our firm belief that the Commission wrongly linked thiamethoxam to the decline in bee health.

"In suspending the product, it breached EU pesticide legislation and incorrectly applied the precautionary principle.

"Modern products like thiamethoxam are essential to address the challenge of increasing European food production and reducing the reliance on imports."

Defra, the NFU and HTA dispute the the scientific basis for the ban, which came after a report by EFSA, which concluded that the three products pose a "high risk" to honey bees in crops producing nectar and pollen.

Responding to Syngenta’s announcement Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:  "These restrictions are completely justified. With mounting scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to bee decline, failure to act would recklessly put our food supplies and economy at risk."

"We can’t afford to gamble with the future of our bees. The Government’s forthcoming pollinator strategy must tackle all the threats our bees face, including pesticide use."

The European Commission decision prevents the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam - in seed treatment, soil application (granules) and foliar treatment on plants and cereals (with the exception of winter cereals) that are attractive to bees.

The remaining authorised uses are available only to professionals, with exceptions limited to possible treatment of bee-attractive crops in greenhouses and open-air fields only after flowering.

The restrictions will come into force on December 1 and will be reviewed within two years.
Member states must now withdraw or amend existing authorisations to comply with the new restrictions by September 30. They can use stocks until November 30.

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