1-Year Anniversary- ECJ Hearing on Neonicotinoids Case

Updated: Apr 2, 2019



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Right after the European Commission severely restricted the use of neonicotinoids in 2013, Bayer and Syngenta challenged the decision appealing to the European Court of Justice. Since restrictions were placed in 2013, the pesticide industry has kept busy trying to revert them. A year ago, in February 2017, BeeLife was part of the latest chapter of this story at the ECJ. The Commission faced industry giants Bayer and Syngenta, defending its decision on dangerous neonicotinoid-based products. Today, on the court's hearing anniversary, we bring the attention to the ECJ's ongoing silence, concerning European beekeepers about the future of imposed restrictions.

On 15 and 16 February, Pesticide Action Network Europe, Greenpeace and BeeLife stood by the Commission to keep the restrictions effective. Today, the fight for the restriction remains strong, with pleads pouring from all over Europe, as seen in the Save the Bees Coalition. Since evidence points towards high toxicity for environmentally necessary pollinators such as bees, BeeLife and its members insist on the need to not only maintain the restrictions but to push towards a full ban.

Even though the EC approved the use of neonicotinoids in the 2000’s, scientific evidence later exposed their high risks, thus forcing it to restrict their use in 2013. The EC implemented the restrictions after the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed the products and presented their scientific report to the Commission. Before reaching the approval's deadline, the Commission recognised the urgent need for restricting neonicotinoids' use. The EC considered these products risks as too high for environmentally necessary pollinators.


Hearing chambers at the European Court of Justice

Lessons from the hearing at the European Court of Justice The Agro-Chemical industry presented a case, as lawyers stated, based on rule of law and regulation instead of science. Bayer and Syngenta aimed to revert the restrictions to widely commercialise neonicotinoid-based products by arguing that the EC acted out of procedural parameters.

According to Bayer, the Commission could only have made such a decision after the authorisation’s deadline was met, and only if there was new information available. EFSA, the official advisor for the European Commission, provided a rigorous report on the matter, explaining the risks neonicotinoids pose to the environment. However, the industry keeps trying to find a loophole to exploit. They expect to invalidate the restrictions by declaring the report as a compilation of previously known information. BeeLife, along with its partners and the EC, insists on the novelty of the information presented on EFSA's report, and also supports the Commission's capability to withdraw authorisations at any time after reviewing information and balancing the risks at hand.

Even though Bayer and Syngenta explicitly focused on Rule of Law instead of scientific evidence, they still presented misleading information on the neonicotinoid toxicity on honeybees' evidence. Of such misleading arguments, we highlight the following: -The EFSA report found no causation nor correlation was found between the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides and insecticides and hive-collapses. -Neonicotinoids may be sub-lethal for bees, which does not entail for restrictions. -Experiments do not represent the reality due to administration and dosage methods not corresponding to those found in agricultural production. -The Commission’s decision to ban Neonicotinoids has been unlawful.

And, the champion: -Neonicotinoids are safe for mammals. You can even drink it and you might only be concerned with the taste of it.

If you want to know more about common misinformation practices on the subject, check out report on Tactics Used by Agro-Chemical Industries to Impose and Maintain Harmful Pesticides on the Market

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