Late last week the Corporate Europe Observatory, a research group which works to improve the transparency in European policy making, published private letters from Syngenta and Bayer. The contents of these showed the pesticide companies forceful lobbying against a proposed European ban on neonicotinoids, a group of pesticides shown to have harmful effects on wildlife.
One of the letters from Bayer was addressed to European Commissioner, John Dalli, advising him that where countries had experienced honeybee deaths en mass, the fault lay with the farmers and not with the chemicals themselves. This is contradictory to the findings of the member states involved, each one placing a ban on certain uses for neonicotinoids as a result of these incidents.
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South-East England said "Bayer and Syngenta are looking increasingly desperate in their attempts to undermine the regulation of pesticides they produce. Unfortunately for them facts speak more loudly than all their corporate lobbying and the evidence in favour of banning Neonicotinoid use looks increasingly convincing”.
Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a report which reviewed the scientific literature surrounding risks to pollinators from the neonicotinoids, Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam and Clothianidin. This independent scientific group which advises the European Commission, found that these toxic chemicals were a high risk to honeybees.
Bayer criticized the findings, maintaining that it “overstates the risks to honey bees”. The press release accompanying the reports stated that these risks were not acceptable which Syngenta took offence to, asking the Director of EFSA to change it before being made public, and threatening legal action if they did not comply.
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife’s Pesticides Officer said “Neonicotinoids have been the focus of many recent studies published in esteemed journals such as Nature and Science. Even small amounts of the chemical have been found to have harmful effects on our wildlife. It’s time that our Government takes action to suspend these lethal insecticides immediately”.