Press Release Shock and dismay as the EU allows a new bee-killing insecticide
When would policymakers learn from past decisions?
On 27th July 2015, the European Commission and EU Members States authorised a new neonicotinoid, SULFOXAFLOR (1). The insecticide active substance is produced by Dow AgroSciences. The political decision to allow the substance into the market was taken despite the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warnings on its risks to bees but also to small mammals.
Among its conclusions, the EFSA report explains that “with the available assessments a high risk to bees was not excluded for field uses » (2).
The decision is even more absurd when considered that SULFOXAFLOR acts on bees’ in a similar way as insecticides from neonicotinoids family, which are currently partially banned in Europe. In the United States where sulfoxaflor-based pesticides have been marketed since 2013, the beekeeping sector has been pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdrawn it from the market (3).
Moreover, EFSA also listed missing information required to perform a complete risk assessment dossier. This includes among others, data on bee brood, wild bees and impacts of field uses on colony mortality. It is noteworthy that similar threats in the field and data gaps fostered the suspension of the three neonicotinoids insecticides in 2013 (4).
The decision of the European Commission and Member States do not comply with the approval criteria of Regulation 1107/2009 expressed in the Annex II, section 3.8.3.
It is shocking to see that despite all the field observations, scientific (5) and legislative improvements towards pollinators’ protection (6,7) policymakers take nowadays such decisions and fail to ensure pollinators’ and environment safety.
Francesco Panella, Bee Life President said: "It is frustrating, politicians responsible to ensure the safety of our bees and environment have all the tools in their hands to implement good measures. Instead, they keep on releasing risky products into the fields. It is time for European authorities to stop authorizing the flooding of our environment with molecules so highly toxic. They are poisons that contribute decisively to the decline of pollinators and biodiversity. These decisions not only pose a risk to the chain of life, but also to that of sustainable economy".
(5) EFSA Guidance: New methodologies to assess the risks of pesticides on bees