August 27, 2013 3:35 pm

Syngenta challenges European Commission over pesticides ban

Syngenta, the Swiss agrochemicals group, has launched a legal challenge against a temporary EU ban on its pesticide thiamethoxam, which was linked to the sharp fall in the bee population.

The company on Tuesday said it filed a suit against the European Commission’s decision to restrict the use of thiamethoxam, a type of neonicotinoid insecticide that manufacturers insist is safe.

Environmental campaigners had welcomed the commission’s decision this year to impose an EU-wide moratorium on three types of neonicotinoid, which it is claimed have devastated populations of bees around the world.

Syngenta’s legal action claims the decision-making process was flawed, as it was based on an inaccurate and incomplete assessment and lacked the full support of EU member states.

John Atkin, chief operating officer, said: “We would prefer not to take legal action but have no other choice given our firm belief that the commission wrongly linked thiamethoxam to the decline in bee health. In suspending the product, it breached EU pesticide legislation and incorrectly applied the precautionary principle.”

The ban is due to take effect from December and will last for two years. Some farmers associations are strongly opposed to the measure and say it will hit food production.

Research by the European Food Safety Agency identified a number of risks to bees from neonicotinoids. But the decision to take action split member states and was opposed by eight countries.

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