BASEL, Switzerland, March 28, 2013- Syngenta and Bayer CropScience today proposed an action plan to address bee health, following an inconclusive vote from the European Commission (EC) on banning neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides produced by the companies that some studies link to bee deaths.
The EC held a vote this month on a proposed ban of three neonicotinoids that failed to pass with a majority, but will move forward with an appeal. Environmental groups are pressuring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take similar measures against the pesticides. Several groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the agency’s classification of neonicotinoids.
The features of the companies’ action plan include ways to address several factors that are believed to affect bee health, including parasites, viruses and poor nutrition. John Atkin, Syngenta’s Chief Operating Officer, said banning neonicotinoids “would not save a single hive and it is time that everyone focused on addressing the real causes of declining bee populations.”
“This comprehensive plan will bring valuable insights into the area of bee health, whereas a ban on neonicotinoids would simply close the door to understanding the problem,” he said.
Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience, said the lack of agreement between the European Commission and the Member States “needs a bold plan so that farmers in Europe can continue to produce the high quality affordable food, in a way that promotes the health of bees and other pollinators.”
Scheitza added that, “Even though all the evidence points to various parasites and diseases being the true cause of poor bee health, we are keen to do everything in our power to give consumers confidence in our products.”
According to Bayer and Syngenta, the key features of the action plan are:
1. Significantly scale up the creation of pollen rich, flowering field margins across the EU to provide essential habitat and nutrition for bees.
2. Support for the establishment of a comprehensive field monitoring program for bee health including the detection of neonicotinoid crop protection products – particularly in maize, oilseed rape, sunflower and cotton.
3. Mandatory implementation of strict measures to mitigate the exposure risk to bees; these are currently already recommended by the manufacturers and effectively applied by most farmers as good agricultural practice.
4. Investment in and implementation, at the earliest opportunity, of new technologies which further reduce dust emissions from the planting of seed treated with neonicotinoid crop protection products.
5. Further investment in the research and development of new solutions for the main factors impacting bee health, which include parasites and viruses, and establishment of area-wide long-term pilot studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.
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