EU revokes its emergency authorisation of bee-toxic pesticides 

In recent years, neonicotinoids have come under fire for their role in the decline of bee populations. Bee-toxic pesticides are known to disrupt bees’ memory, orientation, and reproduction, which all contribute to population decline. 

The European Commission introduced a partial ban on neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees in 2013, and this was followed by a total ban on all outdoor uses in 2018.

However, there recent annulment request before the Belgian Administrative Court for the use of these bee-toxic insecticides on sugar beets, which was brought forward by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, Nature & Progrès Belgium together, and a Belgian beekeeper.

This request has now led to a new high court ruling that means that EU countries are no longer allowed temporary exemptions for banned bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. 

The EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), has now confirmed that emergency, temporary authorisations of banned products won’t be granted going forward. 

In 2021, despite an appeal from pesticide manufacturer Bayer, the ECJ confirmed that the Commission was right to ban the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which includes plant protection products that specifically target insects, like midacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. 

The latest ruling applies to recent emergency authorisations issued by the Belgian courts, which were given to treat plants or ecosystems when they can’t be sustained by other means. 

The Court concluded that “as regards seeds treated with plant protection products containing substances expressly prohibited, […] the [EU] legislature did not intend to allow member states to derogate from such an express prohibition.”

In addition, the ruling stressed, “the obligation of all member states to take all necessary measures to promote low pesticide input pest control, giving priority to non-chemical methods wherever possible.” Many anti-pesticide campaign groups have welcomed the ruling, which will mean that around half of the active exemptions will be removed. 

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