Europe must ban bee-killing pesticides

Cost of inaction would be catastrophic for European agriculture

Press release - March 14, 2013
Brussels, 14 March 2013 – EU government representatives are meeting today and tomorrow in Brussels to consider a partial ban of three neonicotinoids that have been shown to harm bees. Greenpeace urges European governments not to bow to pressure from the pesticides industry, but to protect European agriculture by banning these substances, in line with scientific advice.

Following the publication of a series of distressing scientific studies on the negative effects of neonicotinoids, the European Commission proposed in January the ban being discussed today by EU member states. The European Food Safety Authority and the European Environment Agency have both issued reports [1] arguing for drastic action. The proposed ban would relate to imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam that are acutely toxic to honeybees and which are produced by Syngenta and Bayer.

In response, chemicals and pesticides corporations have rolled out public relations and lobbying campaigns in an attempt to ward off any likelihood of a ban. Government representatives are unlikely to reach the qualified majority necessary under EU rules to confirm or reject the ban. It will then be up to the Commission to table a new proposal or to refer the matter to a higher body of national representatives.

Greenpeace EU agricultural policy director Marco Contiero said: “The European and global scientific community have warned repeatedly that neonicotinoids and other pesticides are contributing to the dramatic decline of bees. To ignore these warnings would be irresponsible and damaging to European farming, which relies on the work of bees and other pollinators. The Commission and EU governments must introduce and enforce bans on neonicotinoids”.

The pollination of crops in Europe by bees and other pollinators is estimated to be worth around €22 billion to EU agriculture [2]. Partial bans of neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia [3], with no real negative impact for agricultural production.

Neonicotinoids are sprayed on leaves, applied to the soil or used as a seed coating, from where they are absorbed and distributed throughout the plant as it grows.



[1] European Food Safety Agency assessment of neonicotinoids:; European Environment Agency ‘Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation’, Part B:

[2] European Commission, Beekeeping and honey production:

[3] APENET project report (2011) "Effects of coated maize seed on honey bees"


Marco Contiero
– Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 (0)477 777034 (mobile),

Ed Davitt – Greenpeace EU communications officer: +32 476 988584 (mobile),

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.