The EU has announced that it plans to restrict the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor following concerns over the effects it could have on bees.
Sulfoxaflor was originally developed by agrochemical giant Corteva to be a safer alternative to neonicotinoids – a controversial type of pesticide that’s associated with bee decline.
The pesticide was approved in Europe in 2015. However, just seven years later, it will be restricted to indoor use only after a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that there was insufficient evidence to confirm the safety of bees.
In the report, it was noted that: “for the field and non‐permanent structure greenhouses, a high risk to honeybees and bumblebees was identified related to some pertinent scenarios”, but “a low risk was concluded for honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees in case of permanent structure greenhouse provided the low exposure in such scenarios.”
The changes to the regulations are due to be implemented in the coming months. But, this decision has not gone down well with the US.
Officials have allegedly sent a letter of complaint to the World Trade Organization as the pesticide is commonly used in the US, and this restriction would mean goods it is used on wouldn’t be able to be exported going forward.
A representative from manufacturer Corteva also said in an interview that the company is “deeply disappointed” by the decision to restrict the use of sulfoxaflor, as the chemical is designed to meet strict European requirements for protecting pollinators.
The representative also questioned the EU’s decision to ban the product “regardless of their demonstrated safety and without considering risk mitigation measures and the consequences for European farmers and food security.”
However, Martin Dermine, from Pesticide Action Network Europe noted, “Back in 2015, it was crystal clear that this substance posed an enormous risk to EU pollinators,” and that the Commission shouldn’t have approved it.
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