EU Court Backs Ban on Three Neonicotinoids

A European Union court has upheld an almost complete ban on three neonicotinoids: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid.

On Thursday, the General Court of the European Union said it “confirms the validity of the restrictions introduced at EU level in 2013 clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid because of the risks those substances pose to bees.”

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The court dismissed the actions brought by Bayer, which makes and markets imidacloprid and clothianidin in the EU, and Syngenta, which makes and markets thiamethoxam (and treated seeds). The companies had sought to annul the regulations and restrictions on neonicotinoids put in place by the EU in 2013. Syngenta had also sought compensation of at least 367.9 million euros.

However, it largely upheld the action brought by BASF and annuls the measures restricting the use of fipronil, “since they were imposed without a prior impact assessment,” the court said.

In a statement, Syngenta expressed disappointment at the ruling:

We stand by our past decision to challenge the European Commission’s decision-making process concerning our thiamethoxam technology, as it relied on a hypothetical risk to implement partial restrictions on neonicotinoid chemistries, outside legally approved regulation.

Predictable regulatory frameworks and their consistent application by regulators enable companies like Syngenta to innovate and thus support European farmers and ultimately European consumers with locally produced, safe and affordable food.

The handling of this specific case reflects our more general concern at the approach the European Commission is taking to regulating technology in agriculture. The evolution of modern farming technology and responsible, science-based environmental management is imperative if we are to sustainably produce affordable, safe, and local food to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 and take care of our planet. Predictable, transparent and science-based regulation must lie at the center of meeting this challenge. Scientific and regulatory excellence in Europe has increasingly become politicized. This has negatively affected all interested parties and above all, has damaged consumer trust.

Looking forward, today’s ruling must be seen as an opportunity to build stronger foundations for transparent dialogue and scientific understanding with European regulators and all other stakeholders. We want to send a clear message that scientific innovation is in our view the only effective way to address the joint challenges of achieving food security and protecting the environment.

We remain committed to innovating, within a reliable regulatory framework, in order to help EU agriculture become more sustainable while ensuring the financial security of EU farmers.”