Entry into force of EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin

Publication - November 28, 2013
Brussels - On 1 December 2013, the three neonicotinoid insecticides thiamethoxam (produced by Syngenta), imidacloprid and clothianidin (produced by Bayer), will be subject to a partial two-year ban in the European Union (EU). The insecticides are banned because of their proven harmful effects on bees.

Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides derived from nicotine. Due to their high neurotoxicity for insects, neonicotinoids are extremely effective in controlling certain pests. Applied as foliar spray, granules or seed coating, neonicotinoids have become one of the most widespread pesticides used in agriculture. They are used on maize, fruit trees, potatoes and many other crops. Neonicotinoids have systemic properties, meaning that they are absorbed by the entire plant system, resulting in pesticide residues in all parts of the growing plant, including pollen and nectar.

In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published three scientific opinions on the risks posed by the three neonicotinoids. EFSA examined lethal as well as sub-lethal effects on honeybees. It concluded that the insecticides pose “high acute” risks for bees. In particular, EFSA identified highly acute risks to honeybees from exposure via dust, from consumption of residues in contaminated pollen and nectar and from exposure via guttation fluid (in the case of maize).

Following EFSA’s conclusions, on 24 May 2013 the European Commission, supported by a large majority of EU countries, decided to partially ban these pesticides.

20131128 BR partial neonics ban