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Monheim, April 27, 2018 – Today's decision by the EU Member States to restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids to applications in permanent greenhouses is a bad deal for the European agricultural sector and the environment, and one that will not improve the lot of bees or other pollinators. The decision will further reduce European farmers' ability to tackle important pests, for many of which there are no alternative treatments available.
Bayer remains convinced that the restrictions are not warranted, because neonicotinoids are safe when used in accordance with the label instructions. Even under the extremely conservative evaluation criteria of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, the most recent bee risk assessment reports (1) did not find high risks for many neonicotinoid uses where a definitive risk conclusion could be drawn; in those cases, only low risks were found for honey bees, and for wild bees the risk was also found to be low in the majority of cases.
Bayer is surprised that, once again, legislative measures are being implemented without a prior thorough impact assessment. Beyond the costs for European farmers, the restrictions in place have already brought considerable unintended consequences: a lack of alternative solutions; more spray applications, leading to more CO2 emissions; an increased risk of resistant pest insects; and a return to older, less-effective chemicals.
Numerous recent studies, inter alia by the Joint Resource Centre of the European Commission (2), have highlighted the impact of these restrictions. As it currently stands, the European crop protection industry will not be able to offer any registered seed treatments or soil-applied insecticides that could replace the current use patterns of imidacloprid and clothianidin.
It is also puzzling that Member States were asked to take a decision at this time, since the verdict of the ongoing court case (scrutinizing the legal basis of the 2013 restrictions) has not yet been delivered; this is due on 17 May. A reversal of the current restrictions could have profound implications for the legal justification of the new proposals.
Finally, the restrictions are intended to address the alleged risks the substances pose to bee health. Bayer cares about bees. They are essential for the pollination of many arable crops. But there are other, better ways to support pollinator health – such as increasing pollinator foraging options or natural habitats and more efficient control of the varroa mite – than banning substances that have helped farmers effectively manage a broad range of significant pests.
As a leading agriculture company that has a vested stake in pollinator health, Bayer has been working with partners around the globe on efforts to improve habitat and nutrition, better understand the science behind pollinator health, and improve stewardship and farmer / beekeeper communication.
1) See EFSA Journal 2018;16(2):5177 [86 pp.] and EFSA Journal 2018;16(2):5178 [113 pp.].
2) Kathage, J., Castañera, P., Alonso-Prados, J. L., Gómez-Barbero, M. and Rodríguez-Cerezo, E. (2017): The impact of restrictions on neonicotinoid and fipronil insecticides on pest management in maize, oilseed rape and sunflower in eight European Union regions. Pest. Manag. Sci. doi:10.1002/ps.4715.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2017, the Group employed around 99,800 people and had sales of EUR 35.0 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.4 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.5 billion. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.