Global Processing

Chemical companies challenge EU ban on thiamethoxam

August 29, 2013

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Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta is contesting in court the European Commission's decision to ban the use of thiamethoxam, a seed-treatment pesticide. Similar action has been taken by German chemicals giant Bayer, which claimed that the decision to prohibit the use of the pesticide over concerns that it damages bee populations was wrong and based on incomplete evidence.

Independently of each other, both companies announced on Tuesday they were taking the EC to court. The ban on thiamethoxam was imposed without an unanimous approval from all European Union member states. Since they could not reach a clear majority for or against the ban, the EC made a decision unilaterally. The Commission decided to suspend the pesticide, along with two more neonicotinoid chemicals, over a period of two years.

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The choice was based on evidence from a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), stating that the chemicals presented a very high risk to bee populations and put the entire food chain under threat.

Commenting on the legal action taken by Syngenta, chief operating officer John Atkin said that this was a move Syngenta would have preferred to avoid but that the company had no alternative considering the company's firm belief that the decision was inaccurate. He explained that the EC had wrongly associated the overall decline in bee health with thiamethoxam. Atkin pointed out that farmers were denied the opportunity to use a very effective product applied at low doses and have been forced to use less sustainable alternatives.