Court confirms neonicotinoid ban was legal

Thursday 17th May 2018

Today the EU Court of Justice confirmed that the 2013 European Commission decision to protect bees by introducing a ban on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides on flowering crops, was proper and legal.  Bayer and Syngenta had challenged the decisions, throwing everything at the cases and claiming that: the EC exceeded its remit; the economic cost to the pesticide industry should have been a key factor in the decision; the bee pesticide risk assessment document should not have been used (because all member states had not endorsed it); the science showed neonicotinoids were safe to bees; and that there were several other grounds.

Buglife and a number of European NGOs stepped in to support the EC in the court room, intervening by sending experts and lawyers to participate in the cases held in February 2017.  On the other side of the room the pesticides companies were bolstered by legal teams from seed distributors and farmer’s unions.

The decisions of the court, rejects the pesticide companies’ claims and ensures that not only does the 2013 partial ban decision stand, but that in the future bees should only suffer ‘negligible’ exposure to harmful pesticides. 

The decision also means that the recent vote by EU Member States to introduce a more comprehensive ban on the three neonicotinoid seed treatments, should also result in a legally robust ban.

“This is great news for Europe’s bees and pollinators, and a good present for them for the first ‘World Bee Day’ on Sunday.  We hope that the pesticide companies will now start to act responsibly, withdrawing neonicotinoid seed treatments globally and agreeing to test the wild bee safety of all new insecticides”.   Said Matt Shardlow, Buglife Chief Executive.

It is not yet clear if the pesticide companies will appeal the ruling.

In a related ruling the court partly repealed a ban on a similar systemic insecticide Fipronil, this pesticide has not been licenced for widespread use in the UK for many years.

The full court ruling can be viewed here .