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European Commission Pesticide Ban Is Challenged

Lawsuit: Bayer, Syngenta say chemicals are wrongly linked to bee deaths

by Britt E. Erickson
August 29, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 35

Agrochemical companies Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Crop Protection are challenging the European Commission’s May 2013 decision to ban the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides—clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam—on crops that attract bees. In two legal cases filed against the EC in August, the firms claim that the pesticides, used to protect plants from crop-destroying insects, are wrongly linked to bee deaths.

“We believe that the decision of the EC is unjustified, disproportionate, and goes beyond the existing regulatory framework,” says Bayer spokesman Utz Klages. Bayer, which makes clothianidin and imidacloprid, filed the suit “to obtain guidance and clarity on the regulatory framework in view of future investment decisions,” Klages says.

Syngenta, maker of thiamethoxam, says that the EC’s decision was based on “a flawed process, an inaccurate and incomplete assessment by the European Food Safety Authority,” and incomplete support of European Union members.

The ban is scheduled to be in effect for two years starting in December. It was supported by 15 EU countries. The EC says its decision was based on scientific information.

Syngenta claims that the ban will force farmers to use less sustainable alternatives. “Farmers and farmer organizations have expressed great concern that an extremely effective, low-dose product will not be available to them,” Syngenta Chief Operating Officer John Atkin says.


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