EU Set to Ban Outdoor Use of Pesticides Harmful to Bees

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On April 27, Member States’ representatives in a Standing Committee have backed a proposal by the European Commission to further restrict the use of three active substances (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, known as “neonicotinoids”) for which a scientific review concluded that their outdoor use harms bees.

The protection of bees is an important issue for the Commission since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment. On the initiative of President Juncker, for whom this is a priority, the College discussed this on 29 March 2017. The restrictions agreed today go beyond the measures already in place since 2013. All outdoor use of the three substances will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where no contact with bees is expected.

Seeds treated with plant protection products containing the three neonics shall not be out on the market or used, except where:

  1. The seeds are intended to be used only in permanent greenhouses and
  2. The resulting crop stays within a permanent greenhouse during its entire life cycle

The exact date of the publication of the Regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union is not known yet, but it is expected within the following weeks. The following timelines shall enter into force 20 days after the publication of the Regulation. In detail:

  • the MSs shall amend or withdraw existing authorizations for plant protection products containing the three neonics by 3 months from the day into force of the Regulation. Shorter timelines may apply depending on the MS.
  • the placing on the market and use of treated seeds shall be allowed up to 6 months from the entry into force of the Regulation. Shorter timelines may apply depending on the MS.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomed this vote, stressing that “the Commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from the European Food Safety Authority. Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”

The Regulation will now be adopted by the European Commission in the coming weeks and become applicable by the end of the year. More information can be found here.

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