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Financial Times / Biz - Money

EU court upholds ban on insecticides found to harm bees

The European court has upheld Brussels’ partial ban on a group of insecticides found to harm bees, rejecting requests by the chemical makers Bayer and Syngenta to annul the decision.

In 2013, the European Commission severely restricted the use of the three neonicotinoids — clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid — after the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the chemicals were harmful to bees. The ban was extended in April 2018 to prohibit all outdoor use, after further research confirmed the findings.

Syngenta called the court decision “disappointing and unfortunate” and said “scientific and regulatory excellence in Europe has increasingly become politicised.”

Greenpeace EU food policy adviser Franziska Achterberg said:

The ruling sets the EU’s priorities straight — its primary duty is to protect people and nature, not company profit margins. It’s an indictment against corporate bullying that should spur the commission to act on other dangerous pesticides without fear of being challenged in court.

The campaign group called for the EU to take action to ban four other neonicotinoids and three other insecticides, which are authorised for use in the block but the group said are a threat to bees and other beneficial insects.

The European court also decided in a case concerning fipronil, an insecticide, which was partially banned in 2013 and was implicated in last summer’s European egg scandal. The court decided in favour of the chemical maker, BASF, and annulled the EU’s 2013 ban on fipronil because it found officials imposed the ban without performing an impact assessment.

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