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Neonicotinoids slammed in European report

by Melody M. Bomgardner
March 5, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 10

The path forward for the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in Europe grew foggy last week after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released an updated assessment concluding that use of the chemicals carries high risk to honeybees, wild bees, and bumblebees. EFSA based its assessment on scientific evidence gathered since 2013. That year, the European Union restricted the use of three neonicotinoids—clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam—on the basis of research available at the time. The ban was originally set to expire after two years, but in 2015 additional studies were released that continued to show risks to bee health. At the time, Bayer Cropscience, maker of clothianidin and imidacloprid, and Syngenta, maker of thiamethoxam, said the restrictions were based on a flawed assessment and that the research was incomplete. In response to the new report, Bayer contends the pesticides can be used without harming bees. The company criticizes the guidance EFSA developed to measure risk to pollinators as “unworkable.”

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