Honeybees at Risk From Pesticide says EU Watchdog
Three widely-used pesticides made by Switzerland's Syngenta and Germany's Bayer pose an acute risk to honeybees, the European Union's food safety watchdog said on Wednesday (16 January), but stopped short of linking them to bee colony collapse.
Fears over the effects on bees of neonicotinoid insecticides - among the most commonly used crop pesticides in the world - led France to withdraw approval in June last year for Syngenta's Cruiser OSR, used to treat rapeseed crops.
Responding to the opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission said it was ready to take the necessary steps if its findings are confirmed, raising the prospect of EU-wide restrictions on the use of the products.
As EurActiv reported in November, EFSA launched a review of scientific studies and risk assessments in response to the decline in bee populations worldwide and in Europe.
The three pesticides analysed by EFSA were clothianidin and imidacloprid, both of which are primarily produced by Bayer's agricultural unit Bayer CropScience, and Syngenta's thiamethoxam, the active ingredient in Cruiser OSR.
EFSA said harmful pesticide residues in the pollen and nectar of plants treated with the three chemicals meant that they should only be used on crops not attractive to honeybees, such as sugarbeet. That would exclude their use on maize, rapeseed and sunflower crops.
Bees also face an acute risk from exposure to drifting pesticide dust following sowing of cereal seeds treated with the chemicals, including wheat and barley, EFSA said.
However, the EU scientists found no link between use of the pesticides and the phenomenon known as bee colony collapse disorder, which has seen bee populations fall rapidly in recent years across Europe and North America.
Bee Keeper image via Shutterstock
Read more at EurActiv.