Three major European beekeeping groups are appealing to the European Court of Justice to overturn the European Union’s approval for the use of the pesticide Sulfoxaflor, a neurotoxin which they say is highly poisonous to bees;
The Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination and the Italian National Beekeeping Union want the court to rule the EU approval is unjustified.
They cite research by the European Food Safety Authority finding Sulfoxaflor is potentially harmful to bees.
The three groups also point to the United States, where a court overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s authorization of Sulfoxaflor because the EPA had failed to properly assess the risks the pesticide poses for bees and beneficial insects.
Bee Life says after the pesticide is applied, toxic residues persist in fruits and vegetables, at levels two to six times more toxic than the dose killing bees.
Bee Life says the studies included into the dossier provided by Dow AgroSciences, for the authorization of Sulfoxaflor in Europe, have many deficiencies. It says EFSA identified the high risks Sulfoxaflor poses for bees and emphasized a large number of data gaps in the authorization dossier.
The EU approved the use of Sulfoxaflor, a fourth-generation neonicotinoid insecticide, in August even though member states voted in 2013 for an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.
Meantime, Pan Europe says Swiss and German chemical producers are to take the European Commission to court on the ban imposed on thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid.
The Commission banned these insecticides on many crops earlier this year.
Pan Europe says Syngenta and Bayer have campaigned to obtain an image of responsible industries, caring about the fate of bees and other pollinators, but he law suit confirms their main goal is protecting their profit-making neonicotinoids insecticides.
Pan Europe says Syngenta keeps trying to spread misleading information by placing biodiversity and pathogens as main causes of the bees’ decline while independent scientists have presented convincing evidence of the risks posed by neonicotinoids on bees.
“We strongly criticize the double speak of these companies: on one hand pretending to protect bees by sowing flower strips along fields and roads and on the other hand, destroying them by doing everything they can to maintain these extremely toxic chemicals on the market and protect their benefits,” Martin Dermine, PAN Europe’s Bee project coordinator says.
“We agree with the chemical companies that loss of biodiversity is one of the problems troubling bees, but ‘forgotten’ is that these plant and animal losses are mainly caused by the use of the pesticides from the same companies complaining about it.”