Dark clouds over controversial pesticides



The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma has finally determined that neonicotinoids pose a threat to wild bees and honey bee-keeping.However, the decision is being contested by Bayer company - their manufacturer.

The report submitted by EFSA will probably exercise additional pressure in respect of the introduction of stricter regulations pertaining to the use of chemicals in the European territory.

"The report will surely strengthen arguments in favour of imposing further restrictions on the use of neonics", says Dave Goulson of the Brighton-based University of Sussex.

Neonicotinoids constitute a specific system of pesticides, being typically used for coating seeds in order to protect them against pests.During the germination stage, the pesticide spreads through and through the plant subject to further growth, continuing to protect it. Still, it also becomes present in its nectar and pollen, making pollinating insects nobbled in the further course of plant development.

In 2013, the European Commission imposed a ban on the use of 3 neonics with regard to field plants, such as rapeseed, sunflower or corn.At the same time, such crops as those subject to greenhouse production or spraying after they have flowered, as well as winter cereals, have been excluded from the ban. The ban had been based upon a decision adopted by EFSA at the time, while the institution changed its view in 2015, after the continuation of research. It called for the expansion of the ban so that it could encompass all field crops.As it turned out then, neonicotinoids not only handicapped the learning ability or navigational powers of bees, but also influenced their fertility.What is more, they might also spread via water present in soil or wind onto other plants, thus exposing bees to toxic doses of the substance.The major manufacturer of neonics ? Bayer ? has yet got a different view on this issue, emphasising that both American and Canadian regulators have not determined the presence of any such threat in the field.The date of voting on the extension of these restrictions has not been set yet, while the support of the case itself was of a mixed nature back in last December.


Photo:M. Lubeck, USGS

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