Setting average yield records without the use of bee-killing chemicals

Sajtóközlemény - november 29, 2016
Budapest, November 29, 2016 – There was no drastic decline in average yields after the eradication of bee-killing pesticides, as the Hungarian Crop Protection Association (HuCPA) claimed in 2013 would occur [1]. On the contrary, average yields set records in Europe and Hungary [2]. As a result, Greenpeace strongly questions the findings of a new study commissioned by HuCPA [3], which conclude that introducing restrictions on harmful pesticides was disastrous for domestic agriculture. The environmental organization points out that the eradication of these substances from the EU is on the agenda because they pose an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.

A study by the Kleffmann Group, commissioned by the Hungarian Crop Protection Association (HuCPA), titled “The Expected Impact of the Scheduled Withdrawal of Pesticide Agents on Arable Crop Production in Hungary (Budapest, November 2016),” envisions enormous damage should certain pesticides damaging to human health and the environment be withdrawn from agriculture.

HuCPA, which commissioned the present study, had also frightened representatives of the agricultural sector in March 2013 with similar data, [1] which then proved to be unfounded. In contrast to their prediction of a 20-40% reduction in yields for affected crops, crop yields after the restriction saw record highs that exceeded all previous years. [4]

“The study by the Kleffmann Group does not take into account that the use of substances that are devastating for pollinators and ringworms and harmful to human health causes damage that can be expressed in the billions,” stressed Gergely Simon, Greenpeace’s chemicals expert. This view is supported in a professional statement published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences: “neonicotinoids can affect useful organisms such as pests more negatively, and as a result chemical treatments may even produce a net reduction in yields.” [5]

Bee-killing chemicals, both neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos, could be essentially replaced through organic farming methods that employ crop rotation and organic pest control. Data from Great Britain and France show that total pesticide use, including the use of chlorpyrifos, did not increase following the restriction. [6]

“Greenpeace continues to call for a ban on all seven chemicals that pose an excessive risk to bee health. [7] If a pesticide proves to be harmful, we should not request a derogation from the ban or offer another type of chemical, but should disseminate organic methods that do not use chemicals. It’s time that policy makers meaningfully assist farmers in the transition to chemical-free farming methods,” emphasized Balázs Tömöri, agricultural campaigner at Greenpeace Hungary.


[1] The following is stated in a study cited by the head of HuCPA:

“With the elimination of neonicotinoid seed treatment technology, yields of corn, oilseed rape, winter wheat, and sugar beets could decrease by up to 20-40%. [...] Losses arising from the elimination of this technology to the agricultural sector could be close to 17 billion Euros within five years. 50,000 jobs in the European Union’s economy would be in jeopardy, causing major damage particularly to the Eastern member states of the EU.”

[2] In 2014, the first year of restrictions on neonicotinoids, yields for corn and sunflower were excellent throughout Europe, even though the industry had predicted a significant decline due to the restriction on neonicotinoid-treated seeds. The quantity of corn harvested in Hungary was approximately 9 million tons, 33% more than crop yields in the previous five years. The average sunflower yield of 2.65 tons/hectare was also a record high compared to preceding years.

During the rapeseed harvest of summer 2016, which used seeds untreated with banned substances that had been planted in fall 2015, Agriculture Minister Sándor Fazekas announced that Hungarian agriculture production had reached historic highs in 2016. 

[3] Commissioned by the Hungarian Crop Protection Association (HuCPA), the Kleffmann Group conducted a study in November 2016 titled “The Expected Impact of the Scheduled Withdrawal of Pesticide Agents on Arable Crop Production in Hungary,” which was also reported by the news portal

[4] In Hungary in 2014, the year of the ban, the average yield per hectare of corn and sunflower increased significantly.

The average annual yield of rapeseed broke records in 2016. “The per hectare yield of rapeseed exceeded 3 tons, the crop’s second best performance since 1990, with only 2014’s harvest exceeding it by one-tenth of a ton. Its total yield of 809,000 tons, however, set an historical record.”


[6] The authorities have provided data on the increase in chlorpyrifos and pesticide use in general only in the aggregate for all Hungarian agriculture, thus the data was not broken down by crops affected by the ban (sunflower, corn, rapeseed). Data on the use of chemicals is not confidential in the United Kingdom, and information on this can be obtained for every crop and chemical type ( Based on these numbers, there did not appear to be an increase in 2014. In fact, there was a decrease in total pesticide use, including the use of chlorpyrifos as well. In the same year, the use of chemicals on rapeseed also decreased, although this plant had previously been treated with neonicotinoids.  A drastic increase in the use of other pesticides was also not observed in France, so it appears that we are facing a phenomenon confined to Hungary, which can be hard to trace back solely to the ban on neonicotinoids.

[7] Bee devastation – a Greenpeace study titled “Threats to European Pollinating Insects and Agriculture,” in which Greenpeace, based on scientific knowledge, has identified the seven chemical pesticides most dangerous to bees. Their use should be restricted, and they should be removed from the environment to prevent bees and other wild insect pollinators from coming into contact with them. Imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, fipronil, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, and deltamethrin are the chemicals on this list.

Previous press releases on this subject (in Hungarian):

Crop yield records without bee-killing chemicals