Impact of neonicotinoids on bee health

29 January 2013    
Anne Delvaux (PPE)



In response to the European Commission’s request for an evaluation of the risks to bee populations associated with the use of pesticides containing clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam as an active substance, on 16 January 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published the results of its answers to the questions EFSA-Q-2012-00553, EFSA-Q-2012-00792 and EFSA-Q-2012-00793. These conclusions indicate that the EFSA has identified a certain number of risks to bees associated with these three types of neonicotinoid insecticides, and that a cause and effect relationship has been established.

I welcome these initial conclusions, since I have called repeatedly for chronic exposure of bees and larvae to these pesticides to be included in the pesticide evaluation scheme, as well as for the introduction of a moratorium eventually leading to the withdrawal of neurotoxic pesticides and products for agricultural use containing these substances. The health and survival of bees are what is at stake.

Is the Commission therefore intending to take action in respect of the abovementioned three pesticides, in line with the precautionary principle?

Moreover, is the Commission planning to revise its procedures for authorising the sale of pesticides, by including a preliminary assessment of their impact on fauna and flora as a marketing criterion?

Joint answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
Written questions :E-000875/13 , E-001281/13 , E-000934/13

The Commission would refer the Honourable Members to its answers to E-000450/2013, E-011166/2011 and E-00077/2013(1).

Member States shall carry out official controls in order to enforce compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009(2). This includes the production, packaging, labelling, storage, transport, marketing, formulation, parallel trade and use of plant protection products. The Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission carries out audits to verify the control systems of Member States and third countries(3).

E-00934/2013: The Single CMO Regulation(4) provides for financial support for restocking of bee hives in the frame of the apiculture programmes put in place by the Member States. Environmental measures under Rural development programmes contribute to safeguarding bee populations. Also, the Habitats Directive(5) provides a legal framework for the protection of key habitats for bees so that bees benefit from the conservation and management of natural habitats in the Natura 2000 network. The mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services, such as pollination, will provide the knowledge base for the integration of economic value of these services into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020.

E-001281/2013: The Commission is funding several research projects to evaluate the bee health status in Europe and in other parts of the world. The COLOSS(6) COST action joins national research efforts to better understand honey bee health and to prevent colony deaths. The Bee Doc project(7) is studying the consequences of interactions between various pathogens and pesticides on bee health. The EU budget for bee health research under FP7 amounts to approximately EUR 15 million.

(2)    OJ L 309, 24.11.2009.