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23 Feb 2004

France: pesticides suspected of killing bees

France said on Monday it would ban the use of six insecticides containing Fipronil, an active ingredient notably used in the Regent TS insecticide produced by BASF Agro, because it is suspected of killing bees. Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard also said he had ordered a study into an active ingredient contained in the Gaucho insecticide produced by Bayer CropScience. Gaucho was banned from use on sunflowerseed because it was also suspected of decimating honey bees.

„This suspension leads to the banning of the marketing and use in France of these (six) products,“ Gaymard told a news conference, adding that the decision would be in force from Tuesday after notifying BASF. The decision comes after a French court last week put under formal investigation BASF Agro and its chief executive for „selling toxic farm products harmful to human and animal health“.

On Monday Bayer CropScience France and its director general were also put under formal investigation because the company marketed the Regent TS insecticide for nine months before it was sold to Bayer Agro last year. Both companies denied that there had been any proof of a direct link between the insecticide and a comparatively high death rate in bees where the product was most used.

Fipronil was marketed under the trade name Regent for use against major pests on a wide range of field and horticultural crops but it is also marketed under other names for insecticides against fleas, ticks or mites.