Syngenta withdraws application to use banned pesticide linked to bee harm

Company had asked for emergency exemption to treat up to a third of all oilseed rape in the UK with neonicotinoid

MDG : Rapeseed blooms in a field close to the village of Priston

Pesticide maker Syngenta has withdrawn an “emergency” application to use a banned insecticide on up to a third of all oilseed rape in the UK. The U-turn follows a major outcry from green campaigners but the company blamed the government for failing to make a decision in time for crop sowing.

Syngenta’s neonicotinoid pesticide was given a two-year ban by the European Union in 2013 due to research linking it to serious harm in bees. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide and in June an international scientific review concluded that contamination was so pervasive it threatened global food production.

Syngenta argued that there was a future pest threat to oil seed crops that justified an emergency exemption and the government’s advisory committee on pesticides said the criteria for an exemption had been met, although the evidence of the threat was not made public.

“Following an assessment of the current planting schedule for growers, Syngenta has decided to withdraw its application,” said a company spokesman. “Syngenta was clear that in order to supply the product to British farmers and, importantly, to ensure its effective stewardship, an approval from government was required by the end of June.” The spokesman said the company was considering re-applying in 2015.

Guy Smith, vice president of the National Farmers Union, said: “It is very frustrating that it was not possible for a decision to be made in time for Syngenta to prepare seeds for this year’s planting. This loss of this treatment will make it more complicated to grow oilseed rape this season.” He said the issue had been “heavily politicised” by campaign groups with their “own agenda against pesticide use”.

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