BASF Files Legal Challenge in EU’s Fipronil Restrictions

08.11.2013 -

BASF has taken the European Commission (EC) to court over plans to include the German group's insecticide fipronil in a two-year moratorium on products suspected of playing a role in the bee disease Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

The moratorium scheduled to take effect in December targets mainly the neonicotinoid class of insecticides produced by Germany's Bayer and Switzerland's Syngenta, including the active ingredients clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. It applies to all crops except winter cereals and plants not attractive to bees, such as sugar beet. Fipronil, used in treatment of maize and sunflower seeds, was included later following a recommendation by the European Food Safety Agency, EFSA.

After a two-year trial, the EC has said it will "consider the newest scientific information" and review the restrictions.

Announcing the challenge filed in the General Court of the European Union, BASF said it remains convinced that the decline of the bee population is caused by multiple and complex factors and that the ban of fipronil uses will not contribute to protecting bees. It labeled the EC move a "disproportionate application of the precautionary principle.

Prior to the decision, we reached out to the Commission, but unfortunately our valid scientific studies and evidence were not properly taken into account," said Jürgen Oldeweme, senior vice president global product safety and regulatory affairs in the group's Crop Protection division. "This is why we have taken this step. Fipronil is an important technology in modern agriculture that growers count on."

BASF said the Commission had not considered all the scientific evidence available and also had breached EU pesticide legislation. The world's largest chemical group said it supports research projects investigating the causes related to the decline of bee health and also is developing new products to control bee pests, pathogens and diseases. In this respect, it plans to market a product that controls the Varroa destructor mite. Bayer recently announced it would focus research on the mite as a primary culprit in CCD.