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Greenpeace Calls for EU Ban on Seven Pesticides Due to Bee Risk
By Rudy Ruitenberg
April 09, 2013 11:12 AM EDT

Greenpeace called on European Union policy makers to ban pesticides including crop-protection chemicals from Bayer AG (BAYN), Syngenta AG (SYNN) and BASF SE (BAS), saying the products play a role in honeybee deaths.

The environmental campaign group said it identified seven “priority bee-killer” pesticides that should be banned due to high toxicity and the impact they have on bees, according to an e-mailed statement today.

The “decline in bee populations is the result of multiple factors such as diseases and parasites, climate change and wider industrial-agricultural practices,”[/B] Greenpeace wrote. “Scientific evidence highlights the deadly role of some pesticides, including the mass-killer neonicotinoids.”

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer and Basel, Switzerland- based Syngenta outlined a plan last month to improve bee health in the EU as the companies seek to head off a ban proposed by the European Commission on some uses of neonicotinoid insecticides. Syngenta has said falling bee populations have nothing to do with chemicals, blaming parasitic mites that transmit diseases.

Bayer, Syngenta and BASF referred questions about the Greenpeace e-mail to a statement e-mailed today by lobby Industrieverband Agrar e.V., or IVA, which said the environmental group’s campaign is based on “pseudo-science” and research that used pesticide levels that don’t occur in the field.

The commission, the EU’s executive arm, proposed in January to suspend the use of three neonicotinoids on sunflowers, rapeseed, corn and cotton. EU country experts failed to agree last month on either approving or rejecting the suggested two- year ban.

Neonicotinoids, which work on the central nervous-system of insects, pose a “high acute risk” to bees through nectar and pollen of some treated crops and through drifting dust, the European Food Safety Authority wrote in a Jan. 16 report.

Greenpeace wants the EU to ban:
  • Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin,
  • Syngenta’s thiamethoxam,
  • BASF’s fipronil, as well as
  • chlorpyriphos,
  • cypermethrin and
  • deltamethrin produced by other companies

To start with, EU countries should back the proposed neonicotinoid ban, it said.

“The negative impacts of bee-harming pesticides by far exceed any presumed benefits,” Matthias Wuthrich, European bees project leader at Greenpeace Switzerland, was cited as saying in the statement. “Our bees and wild pollinators are too precious to lose.”
The call for a ban is “short-sighted” and helps neither bees nor farmers, Volker Koch-Achelpohler, the chief executive of IVA, was cited as saying in the statement.

“Productive agriculture requires both healthy pollinators, such as bees and bumblebees, as well as effective plant protection that allows farmers to protect their crops from pests,” Koch-Achelpohler said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at [email protected]
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