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Proceedings: Farming without neonicotinoids: Yes, we can!

The proceedings of the Conference ‘Pollinator friendly farming is possible’ held on the 22nd of March 2013 at the European Parliament, supported by MEP Bart Staes, Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe is now on line. You will find the report here.

" Bees help us to see what is sustainable for our biodiversity and farming" Francesco Panella, Italian beekeeper and farmer.

"To grow a plant, we need a soil, a living soil (...) Remember that it is the soil which makes the plant and which makes life...not pesticides!” André Grevisse, Belgian farmer. Some months before the announcement of the neonicotinoid ban, the conference ‘Pollinator- friendly farming is possible’ was held in Brussels to inform EU policy makers and citizens that farming could live without neonicotinoid insecticides; agriculture can be pollinator- friendly while remaining efficient and profitable. Indeed, alternative agronomic techniques based on intensive knowledge of farmers, technicians and researchers on the interactions between plant, soil and animals can lead to sustainable farming, in terms of economic and environmental results. The report of the conference starts by highlighting the dead-end of current food and farming systems, explaining why high input dependent technology dominates agriculture and locks out truly sustainable technologies and systems. The report goes on to focus on the nonsense of neonicotinoid use, in particular dressing seeds with systemic pesticides, which are prophylatic treatments (so-called “preventive use”): Why apply a pesticide, when it is not even known if the target pest is likely to occur in the field?

Finally, bee-friendly farming solutions are proposed, based on agro-ecological science. These solutions are best practices that can be implemented on the farm in the middle or long term“ e.g. crop rotation, stimulation of beneficial insects...“ but also in the short term, e.g. provision of natural predators. The major role of pest monitoring and Integrated Pest Management techniques were also highlighted.

The recommendations from the conference to promote pollinator-friendly farming were to: - Promote trainings on agronomical knowledge based on interactions between soil, plants and animals, to reduce the use of inputs (pesticides, including those used with GMOs, fertilisers); - Support and fund independent research on the subject; - Create an efficient platform to share information on alternative farming; - Restrict the influence of pesticide manufacturers; - Be consistent with EU legislation and ensure coherent implementation of agricultural, environmental and health policies. - Establish insurance systems for farmers contributing to healthy agriculture, in case they lose their harvests. The partial ban on neonicotinoids will come into force from December 2013. At the end of a two-year period, the Commission will decide on further risk management measures, according to further studies and data from the applicants. According to European Regulation (EC) 1107/2009 (concerning the placing of plant protection products) and the precautionary principle, if the applicant cannot prove the safety of its products - the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam should be totally banned in the future. This is an opportunity to promote pollinator-friendly farming.

Indeed, the use of pesticides to control pests will always be a false solution, as it will generate health or environmental problems, and promote resistance and other population effects. Replacing one pesticide with another is not an alternative solution. It also makes it harder to see the most relevant cause of the problems. The best way will always be to avoid the use of pesticides, in particular wide spectrum, systemic and persistent pesticides, as well as avoiding preventive use as seed treatments, and look for solutions within the agro-ecosystem itself.

Please find practical examples of alternative agricultural measures on a list established after the conference:

This list is not exhaustive and aims to be continuously completed.

If you want to send specific example, send it to _ _ _

Speaker Presentations:

Louis Hautier - Lorenzo Furlan - Merijn Bos - Ralf-Udo Ehlers - Francesco Panella - André Grevisse

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Conference Organizers:

Bart Staes Greens/EFA MEP and the Campaign Give bees a chance. Follow it on Facebook and Twitter. PAN Europe and Savehoneybees European Beekeeping Coordination Conference Partners:

Pajottenlander - Slow Food - Slow Food Karikol - L'Heureux Nouveau

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For more information, contact: Francesco Panella, spokesman for the European Beekeeping Coordination. Tel: +32 10 47 16 34,

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