The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) released its review of the evidence this week, which confirmed the risk to bees of using three types of neonicotinoids.
The agency undertook a systematic literature review of 1,500 studies and collected additional data to assess the risk of using the insecticide on both wild bees and honeybees. It also relied on a longstanding guidance document.
Jose Tarazona, Head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit, said that “the availability of such a substantial amount of data as well as the guidance has enabled us to produce very detailed conclusions”
“Overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed”, he concluded.
The pesticide attracts huge attention given its widespread, global use and the deadly impacts on wildlife.
Restrictions have been in place within the EU since 2013, but the updated study is likely to lead to a complete ban on the substance. EFSA will now send its recommendations for the European Commission and EU countries to make a judgement.
A spokesperson for Syngenta, a large agricultural business, criticised the results saying that the agency’s use of an “overly conservative” and “extremely impractical” guidance document “would lead to a ban of most if not all insecticides, including organic products”.
Meanwhile, environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth commented that “we have been playing Russian Roulette with the future of our bees for far too long”.
“The UK government has already said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of these three bee-harming chemicals – a move that is fully justified by this report. Other EU countries must now back a tougher ban too”.