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EU Food Safety Authority announcement that neonicotinoid pesticides should not be used on crops attractive to honey bees

16 January 2013

Responding to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announcement this morning that neonicotinoid pesticides should not be used on crops that are attractive to honey bees, the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Joan Walley MP, said:

"Healthy populations of bees and other pollinators are vital for UK food production, but recent studies suggest that commonly used pesticides could be causing those populations to decline.

The European Food Safety Authority has now reviewed the available evidence and concluded that neonicotinoids should only be used on crops that are not attractive to honey bees.

I welcome that move, but given that there is no new data here, it is extremely worrying that these pesticides were authorised for use in the European Union in the first place.

Our inquiry had already identified risks to bees that were not picked up in the EU assessment process for one of Europe’s most widely used pesticides, despite field trial data showing it could linger in the environment at dangerous levels.

This raises important questions about the whole European pesticides assessment regime, which the Environmental Audit Committee will now be looking into. 

Defra and the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides have previously stressed their confidence in the safety of these products so they must now examine EFSA’s risk assessment carefully before deciding whether UK farmers can continue to use these chemicals on crops, such as oilseed rape."

EFSA announcement