Pesticides harmful to bees exported from EU after ban on outdoor use | Pesticides

Thousands of tonnes of pesticides which seriously harm bees are exported from the EU despite a ban on their use outside in the bloc.

Data obtained by Unearthed, the investigative arm of Greenpeace, shows that 3,900 tonnes of banned neonicotinoid pesticides were intended to leave the EU and UK for low- and middle-income countries with weaker environmental regulations in three months following the entry into force of the ban.

The insecticides, which contain the active ingredients thiamethoxam, imidacloprid or clothianidin, were mainly intended for Brazil (which was to receive almost half of exports), Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, Iran, to South Africa, Indonesia, Ghana, Mali and Singapore. .

The EU ban came into effect on September 1, 2020. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “a global threat to biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services”, but some EU countries continue to use them under emergency clearances.

Eight EU countries are likely to have exported neonicotinoid pesticides banned since the ban – Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Austria, Denmark and Hungary – as well as the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization welcomed the ban and said it was evidence of a growing consensus on the need to severely restrict pesticide use because of “large-scale adverse effects on bees and other beneficial insects”.

Claire Nasike, Greenpeace Africa, said: “This is the highest form of double standard presented by these EU countries. They prioritize profits over people and the planet. It is time for low- and middle-income countries to pass laws that protect their people and their environment from these toxic chemical imports. “

A European Commission health and food safety official said: “Neonicotinoids are particularly toxic to bees and contribute significantly to the decline of pollinator populations. We would not find it acceptable for the production of food for import into the EU to cause or threaten serious adverse effects on pollinator populations. “

Most of the exports were reported by subsidiaries of Syngenta, the Chinese multinational pesticide company headquartered in Switzerland, and its German counterpart Bayer.

A Bayer spokesperson said neonicotinoids are an important tool for farmers as they help control pests and protect crops. “The mere fact that a plant protection product is not authorized or banned in the EU says nothing about its safety,” they said.

A Syngenta spokesperson said, “We fully support the safety and efficacy of thiamethoxam. The numerous emergency authorizations granted by various EU countries show that farmers need this technology to protect their crops.

Neonics were due to be used in England this year as part of an emergency clearance, despite the government’s commitment to maintain post-Brexit restrictions to protect “pollinator populations at risk … unless the evidence base does not change ”. But the plan was scrapped after the cold killed the virus-carrying aphids.

A report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services said: “Recent research focusing on neonicotinoid insecticides shows evidence of lethal and sublethal effects on bees.

A European Commission source said countries can decide whether they want to import certain pesticides. “An EU export ban, however, cannot automatically lead third countries to stop using such pesticides if they can import them from elsewhere,” they said.

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