Syngenta Contests EU Move to Restrict Thiamethoxam

29.08.2013 -

Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta has filed a legal challenge to a decision by the EU Commission (EC) to restrict application of thiomethoxam, one of the active ingredients in pesticides and seed treatments used on bee-attractive crops. The group said the EC's decision was "based on a flawed process, an inaccurate and incomplete assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and without the full support of EU Member States."

At the end of April, following approval by a simple majority of 15 member states, the Commission pressed ahead with plans to restrict use of a number of neonicotinoid-related products for two years - from December 2013 - due to fears they may be at least partly to blame for the decline in bee populations known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The restrictions will apply to the use of neonicotinoids on all crops except winter cereals and plants not attractive to bees, such as sugar beet.

The European action, made possible by rules that allowed the Commission to proceed without a weighted majority vote, is the world's first continent-wide suspension imposed on widely used insecticides. In the period leading up to the decision, Syngenta and other manufacturers of neonicitonid active ingredients such as Bayer, had proposed alternative strategies.

 "We would prefer not to take legal action but have no other choice given our firm belief that the Commission wrongly linked thiamethoxam to the decline in bee health. In suspending the product, it breached EU pesticide legislation and incorrectly applied the precautionary principle," said John Atkins, Syngenta's chief operating officer.

Since the EU suspension of thiamethoxam was announced, Atkins said farmers and their organizations "have expressed great concern that an extremely effective, low dose product will not be available to them and will have to be replaced by much less sustainable alternatives."