Press Release, 8 December 2015
Sales of pesticides harmful to bees still as high as before
EU must revoke licence for Neonicotinoids
The Coalition against BAYER Dangers (CBG) demands a complete ban of neonicotinoid pesticides. The partial ban imposed by the EU in December 2013 has so far not led to a reduction in sales, therefore making it inadequate for the protection of bees and other insects. By the end of the year the EU has to decide about whether to extend or tighten the ban.
CBG board member Jan Pehrke said: “It's high time that Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam are taken off the market completely. And the export of these substances must be stopped as well. Moreover, the toxins must not be substituted by new but equally dangerous chemicals such as Sulfoxaflor or Flupyradifurone.”
In the spring of 2008 the use of Clothianidin caused the mass death of bees in Southern Germany. This prompted the German government to ban the use of Clothianidin und Imidacloprid in the cultivation of corn and grains. Since December 2013 Clothianidin, Imidacloprid (both by BAYER) and Thiamethoxam (SYNGENTA) may no longer be used for treating corn, sunflower and rape seeds across the EU. However, they continue to be licenced for spray application with potatoes and sugar beets.
The measures have not led to a reduction in neonicotinoid demand. A list published by the German government upon a request by the Green party shows that the quantities used after the ban stayed at the same level (see below). The quantities exported by German companies even increased significantly – from 952 tons (2008) to 2269 tons (2014).
Neonicotinoids are systemic chemicals that spread from the seed throughout the plant and disrupt the nervous system of any insect which comes into contact. The substances travel into the pollen and the nectar and can poison beneficial insects such as bees. Estimations for the LD 50 lie between 3 and 50 ng/bee. That means that 50% of the bees which consume 3-50 ng of the pesticide, all die. At even lower, sublethal doses the compounds can cause bees to become disoriented, without directly killing the insect. Bees which cannot return to their hive will soon die. The European Food Security Authority (EFSA) therefore concluded in August that the use of neonicotinoids is associated with great dangers for bees.
Bayer managers have known these risks since the beginning of the 90s. The company downplayed the problems, submitted deficient studies to authorities and accepted the loss of honey bees in many parts of the world. After the mass bee deaths in Germany the Coalition against Bayer Dangers brought a charge against the management for knowingly endangering the environment.
Neonicotinoid sales in Germany
2006: 258 tons
2007: 280 tons
2008: 258 tons
2009: 280 tons
2010: 257 tons
2011: 295 tons
2012: 342 tons
2013: 200 tons
2014: 207 tons
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