Both Syngenta and Bayer CropScience responded last week to the European Commission's failure to win support for an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

A majority of Member States refused to support the proposal to restrict their use on all bee attractive crops. The Commission must now decide whether to appeal the decision or amend its proposal.

Syngenta Chief Operating Officer, John Atkin, said: “We are pleased that EU Member States did not support the European Commission’s shamefully political proposal. Restricting the use of this vital crop protection technology will do nothing to help improve bee health.”

Bayer CropScience also welcomed the fact that no consensus was reached by the EU Member States in favor of the European Commission’s proposals regarding the use of most applications of neonicotinoid-containing products. This provides hope to European farmers, that they can continue to have access to safe and effective crop protection products supporting their ability to grow safe, high-quality, affordable food. The failure to reach a conclusive decision is a clear recognition that there is no convincing argument against the continuing use of neonicotinoid-based products.

Syngenta has repeatedly highlighted that the European Commission tried to justify its actions on the basis of a hurried and highly theoretical review by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). This review made fundamental mistakes which led to a serious over-estimation of the amount of pesticide bees are exposed to under field conditions. It also ignored key studies and independent monitoring by governments which prove the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The decline in bee health is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture. However, even the European Commission’s own data show that pesticides play a negligible role compared to diseases, viruses and loss of habitat.

Syngenta urged the European Commission to broaden efforts to tackle the real causes of the decline in bee health rather than continuing to focus on neonicotinoid pesticides, which deliver significant socio-economic and environmental benefits.

Syngenta has, for many years, supported bee health through Operation Pollinator Syngenta’s business is based upon biodiversity, including thriving pollinators, and the company remains committed to enhancing ecosystems wherever it operates in the world.

Bayer CropScience believes this response provides an opportunity to reach a fair and just outcome as the European Commission has relied too heavily on the precautionary principle, without taking the principle of proportionality into account. Not only had the Commission incorrectly based its rationale on recent EFSA reviews of these products, they had failed to make the appropriate impact assessments of any decisions they proposed on the broader interests of European stakeholders.

The company continues to believe that any political decision relating to registrations of neonicotinoid-containing products, should be based on clear, scientific evidence of adverse effects of the affected products under realistic conditions of use, including the extensive stewardship measures that are in place in the field. There has been a long history of the safe use of neonicotinoid insecticides and it is clear that when they are used responsibly and properly, any impact on bees is negligible. This has already been confirmed by the competent EU and Member State authorities in their market authorization assessments, based on the extensive safety data that had previously been submitted and proven in many monitoring studies.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Bayer CropScience is strongly committed to supporting the responsible use of neonicotinoids and will continue to engage further in dialogue with stakeholders, EU and Member States authorities.