Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog »Blog Archive Bayer loses offer to revoke neonicotinoid ban in Europe
(Beyond pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, an agrochemical multinational Bayer Cropscience lost its attempt to overturn a 2018 ban on neonicotinoids toxic to bees across the European Union. The judgment of the European Court of Justice rejected all the grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting: “It is clear that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience can in no way succeed.” In dismissing the appeal, the court held Bayer liable for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban.
Environmental groups applaud the decision, as it strengthens several important aspects of EU pesticide policy that promote greater protection of public health and the environment. In an interview with EURACTIVMartin Dermine, policy officer for Pesticide Action Network Europe, notes that the decision gives pesticide regulators more leeway to consider new scientific evidence on the dangers of pesticides. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle: in case of doubt about the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission has the right to ban it.”
Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based on evidence that neonicotinoids were contributing to declining pollinator populations. The original ban only applied to flowering crops, but was extended in 2018 to include a ban on all outdoor uses of the three most commonly used neoncotinoids – clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. To make their decision, EU regulators analyzed more than 1,500 studies from universities, beekeeping associations, agrochemical companies, farmer groups, non-governmental organizations and national regulators, and concluded that neonicotinoids should be severely restricted in order to protect honey bees and wild pollinators.
As Europe abandons the use of pesticides toxic to bees and further pledged to halve its use of pesticides by 2030 to protect pollinators and biodiversity, the United States Protection Agency the environment (EPA) has done less than the bare minimum to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids. and other dangerous pesticides. As the EU issued its first moratorium, the EPA turned down a petition from beekeepers to recognize that honey bees face an “imminent danger” from the continued use of neonicotinoids. As the EU expanded its moratorium, the EPA was cited by internal watchdogs for its inability to provide baseline oversight of states’ voluntary pollinator protection plans, which the agency said would be adequate to protect bees without regulatory intervention.
While much of the problem lies in the EPA’s continued reluctance to use the tools at its disposal to protect health and the environment, a significant part of the blame for the lackluster United States response to the crisis. pollinators lies in the underlying federal law governing the registration and use of pesticides. FIFRA, the federal law on insecticidal fungicides and rodenticides, does not take a precautionary approach to regulating pesticides. Instead, FIFRA’s risk-based assessments place the onus on those harmed by pesticide exposure to prove their case. With most of the scientific data supporting pesticide approvals in the United States conducted by the pesticide industry and much of it under lockdown by the EPA as “confidential business information,” the regulatory process is both heavy and long. As a result, the EPA prefers to negotiate a “voluntary cancellation” of hazardous pesticides with manufacturers, rather than spending the resources and time associated with an onerous regulatory process subject to litigation in the industry.
Beyond Pesticides has documented numerous cases over the years where the EPA has thrown precaution to the wind and allowed the sale of substances with questionable safety records. From systemic insecticides and nanotechnologies, to pesticide-dependent genetically modified (GE) plants, antibiotics in agriculture, inert ingredients and wood preservatives, the sum of the problem areas for our health and safety is fueling an urgent call for a precautionary approach in the United States
The decision of the EU High Court underlines the value of the natural world. “The Court of Justice has reaffirmed that the protection of nature and human health takes precedence over the narrow economic interests of powerful multinationals,” Andrea Carta, Greenpeace legal strategist, told Reuters.
In light of legal limits and poor regulatory decisions, residents of the United States are encouraged to support an approach to pest management that does not rely on highly toxic pesticides. By forgoing the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds, sewage sludge and other unnecessary hazards, and working with natural systems, organic practices represent a truly sustainable path to sustainability. public health and ecological stability. But in the United States, even those standards are under attack by the same forces that drive toxics into chemical agriculture. Help defend organic integrity by urging the United States Department of Agriculture to complete development of rules on materials and standards allowed in organic production.
All positions and opinions not attributed in this article are those of Beyond Pesticides.