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Let’s stop the proposed neonicotinoids ban

In March 2017, the European Commission submitted new proposals to a Standing Committee of Member States called SCOPAFF (Standing Committee of Plants, Animals, Food and Feed) to ban all outdoor uses of neonicotinoid seed treatments in non-bee-attractive crops such as wheat, barley, sugar beet and veg. These are your seed treatments. We need you to understand the arguments, hear what people are saying and act now so that common sense wins.

What’s happening?

Seed treatments used in vital crops could be lost.

Deter is used by farmers as a seed treatment in wheat and barley, mainly to control aphids, the major vector involved in the highly damaging viruses BYDV (Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus) and CYDV (Cereal Yellow Dwarf Virus). In addition, nearly half of farmers use Deter more for its ability to ‘deter’ slug attack on the seeds than for its insecticidal activity.

Poncho Beta and Syngenta’s Cruiser SB seed treatments in sugar beet would also be banned. In this crop, there is no alternative spray to control the most important aphids, and many fear that beet virus yellows would be impossible to control in the absence of an effective seed treatment.

Bayer’s counter-argument

Bees do not forage, or normally visit, cereals or sugar beet crops. We insist on good stewardship practices within Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes so that farmers protect pollinators from potential risks.

In their explanation, the European Commission based their proposals on a Bee Guidance document that has not been ratified by Member States.

Naturally, we are very concerned that the Commission would take far-reaching decisions using a risk assessment approach that has never been adopted, primarily due its severe shortcomings, and that it did not consider carrying out a transparent impact assessment before proposing these legislative measures.

Bayer’s position is that we are all concerned about bee health, but to propose a ban based on concerns for bees and other pollinating insects in non-bee-attractive crops is frankly bizarre.

It is therefore clear that the decision to table these proposals was made without consideration of the impact that any ban would have on a UK or European farmer’s ability to grow a high-quality, affordable crop of wheat, barley or sugar beet.

There was no vote at the mid-May Standing committee meeting, but we anticipate that the proposals will be discussed at the meeting on 19-20th July.

The environmental case

Seed treatment is still the most environmentally preferable method of crop protection:

Today’s seed treatments contain low quantities of active substances, very precisely applied and highly targeted in use. The equivalent amount of seed treatment used over a 10,000 m2 field, for instance, is just 58 m2, without the risk of overspraying.

Bees are not active in these crops

Bees do not forage, or normally visit, cereals or sugar beet crops.