EU Neonic Ban has Hit Yields, Industry Says

04.01.2016 -

The European Commission’s ban on neonicotinoid-based chemical protection products has made a substantial dent in business, the agrochemical industry has claimed. According to some industry sources, the EU’s current oilseed rape harvest is likely to be down by around 7%, with UK companies claiming to be severely affected.

Farmers in parts of Britain have said they expect the loss of up to 40% of their potential canola production, worth about $1.4 billion. This, they believe, is due largely to the lack of control options against cabbage stem flea beetle, which they say is widely resistant to alternative pyrethroid spray treatments.

Resistance is also seen as being widespread among aphids, which spread turnip yellows virus in canola and other brassica crops. The growers therefore have welcomed the UK’s "emergency" regulatory decision in July, exempting the counties of Cambridgeshire, Bedford, Hertfordshire and Suffolk from the bans, when next season's crops are sown. A suit against the decision, filed by environmental advocates, is pending.

Syngenta's regional director of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Andrew Guthrie, told Australian media that the EU had lost significant opportunities to promote sustainable crop management using minimal chemical product at a highly effective stage in the protection cycle as the two-season moratorium pronounced at the end of 2013 had “effectively pushed farmers to use more grams of active ingredient compared with what they used when they had a seed treatment option.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meanwhile has failed to make its final report on the economic benefits of neonics expected for late 2015. In an October 2014 preliminary draft, the agency said neonicotinoid seed treatments had no economic benefit for Midwestern soybean farmers.

EPA is not thought likely to make any final decisions on registrations of any neonicotinoids until later in 2016 or 2017. However, reports say there is a precedent for the agency to mandate label changes and restrictions on products outside the registration review process.