Syngenta takes Commission to court over ban of bee-killing pesticide

Press release - August 27, 2013
[UPDATE] - At least one other agrochemicals company (Bayer) has joined Syngenta in challenging the EU pesticide ban.

Brussels – Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta has legally challenged a partial EU ban of one of its pesticides that has been shown to kill bees [1]. The Syngenta complaint [2] was reported in the media on Tuesday, although it was filed with the European Court of Justice on 14 August. Court proceedings in such cases are likely to take around two years.

Greenpeace takes action at Syngenta's annual general meeting in Basel in April 2013.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace spokesperson Mark Breddy said: “Syngenta continues to ignore scientific evidence that clearly links thiamethoxam and other pesticides to bee-mortality. Instead of taking the Commission to court, it should act responsibly and stop marketing its bee-killing pesticides. The Commission was right to intervene and Greenpeace will continue to campaign actively for the protection of bees. The environmental risks and the threat to agricultural production posed by these pesticides far outweigh any benefits.”

Neonicotinoids are powerful pesticides that damage the nervous systems of bees and other pollinators [3]. Other pesticides produced by Syngenta and other agrochemicals companies pose a severe threat to bees. A Greenpeace report, Bees in Decline, identifies seven bee-killing pesticides produced by Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and other companies, four of which are not neonicotinoids [4]. Greenpeace is campaigning to remove these pesticides from the market as a crucial first step to move away from intensive farming in Europe.

Partial bans of neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia, with no significant impacts on agricultural production.

Around a third of the world’s food crops directly depend on natural pollination from bees and other animals.


[1] In May 2013, the European Commission announced a two-year ban (starting on 1 December 2013) for some uses of the thiamethoxam pesticide and two other chemicals belonging to the neonicotinoid family, after the European Food Safety Authority said they posed “high acute risks” to honeybees (see A clear majority of EU countries backed the ban (see


[3] Science: Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production, A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees; Nature: Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees. European Environment Agency, January 2013 , Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation II, Chapter 16, Seeddressing systemic insecticides and honeybees.

[4] Greenpeace Science Unit, April 2013, Bees in Decline.


Mark Breddy
Head of communications, Greenpeace EU: +32 (0)496 156229,

Matthias Wüthrich - Greenpeace European bees campaign coordinator: +41 44 447 41 31

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