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European Union's Top Court affirms partial ban on Bayer Pesticides linked to harming bees

Chintu Das
Chintu Das

On Thursday, the European Union's highest court upheld the EU's partial ban on three insecticides linked to bee damage, banning their use on some crops. Bayer's appeal to reverse a lower EU court's decision to uphold the injunction in 2018 was rejected by the European Court of Justice.

The decision applies to three active ingredients: Bayer Crop Science's imidacloprid, Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer Crop Science's clothianidin, and Syngenta's thiamethoxam.

A Bayer representative expressed disappointment with the decision, but insisted that the drugs were safe and that they were already being used in other regions with adequate risk reduction mechanisms in place.

“The ruling seems to give the (European) Commission almost carte blanche to review current permits based on the tiniest piece of evidence, which may not even have to be new scientific data,” the spokesperson added.

In 2013, the European Commission imposed restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids, prohibiting them from being used on rice, rapeseed, and other spring cereals. Other crops, such as sugar beet, may also benefit from them.

Because of the destruction of bee colonies owing to pesticide misuse, the Commission had inspected the permissions. Bayer said that modern scientific information was insufficient to explain the restrictions. The EU's top court denied the appeal on Thursday, ordering Bayer to pay its own expenses as well as those of other parties.

Greenpeace legal analyst Andrea Carta said, "The Court of Justice has reaffirmed that defending biodiversity and people's welfare takes priority over the limited commercial interests of dominant multinationals." Farmers would return to older pesticides and spray more if the insecticides were banned, according to Bayer and ChemChina-owned Syngenta.

Between 2013 and 2019, 206 emergency authorisations for the use of the drugs were issued in the EU, notwithstanding the ban. Last year, EU auditors concluded that, despite being legal, this pesticide use was believed to be the cause of honeybee losses.

To protect bees, the European Commission has introduced goals to limit chemical pesticide usage by 50% and fertilizer use by 20% by 2030 in the EU.

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