Europe's food safety watchdog confirmed previous concerns that wild bees and bees are put at risk by three pesticides from a group known as neonicotinoids, prompting an EU-level ban on the use of The chemists.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report, which covers wild bees and bees and includes a systematic review of scientific evidence published since EFSA's 2013 assessment, is seen as crucial in determining whether the European moratorium on the use neonicotinoids is still in effect.
The updated risk assessment found variations due to factors such as species of bees, exposure and specific pesticides, "but in general the risk for the three types of bees that we have evaluated is confirmed," said Dr. José Tarazona, head of the EFSA pesticides unit.
The European Union has had a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids, manufactured and sold by various companies, including Bayer and Syngenta, since 2014 after laboratory research pointed to potential risks to bees, which are crucial for crop pollination.
EU nations will discuss a proposal from the European Commission to ban three neonicotinoids next month at the Standing Committee on Plant Animal Feeding and Food.
"This is strengthening the scientific basis for the Commission's proposal to ban the outdoor use of the three neonicotinoids," said a spokeswoman for the EU executive.
Chemical companies have argued that the real-world evidence is not there to blame a global drop in bee numbers in recent years on neonicotinoid pesticides alone.
They say that it is a complex phenomenon caused by a number of factors.
The industry lobby said that while it allows a risk to bees to exist, EFSA has exaggerated it.
He argued that any risk can be managed and that a ban would cause more harm by forcing farmers to extend farmland.
"Farmers need access to a wide range of tools to protect their crops," said Graeme Taylor of the European Crop Protection Association.
Two major field studies in Europe and Canada published last year that sought to examine real-world effects yielded mixed results.
They found some negative effects after exposure to neonicotinoids in wild and honey bee populations, as well as some positive aspects, depending on the environmental context.
Environmental advocates said the study confirmed that regulators should act to ban the use of neonicotinoids.
"National governments must stop the hesitation to avoid the catastrophic collapse of bee populations," said Franziska Achterberg, EU food policy adviser at Greenpeace.
The EFSA report examined in detail three specific neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, and evaluated the exposure of bees to them through three routes: residues in bee pollen and nectar, drift from dust during planting or seed application. treated and water consumption.
Some scenarios, such as when pesticides are used on crops inside glass greenhouses, present a low risk to bees, Dr. Tarazona told Reuters.
However, others, such as the use of neonicotinoids in flowering field crops that attract bees, are high risk.
He said EFSA's findings would now be shared with EC risk managers and later with EU member states, who will decide on any potential changes to current restrictions.
By David Twomey
Original article (in English)