EU Ombudsman investigates whether the Commission should do more to combat increased bee mortality

Thursday 26 April 2012

ombudsman mortality Commission bee losses

ab_mortes_planchevol.jpg (ab_mortes_planchevol.jpg)At the end of March the European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has opened an investigation into whether the European Commission would have taken appropriate measures to combat increased bee mortality in the EU. Following a series of scientific publications, this mortality is potentially linked with one family of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids are neurotoxic, meaning that their insecticide action targets the nervous system of insects. Several scientific studies have shown their effect on the cognitive capacity of bees. They affect the learning and memory capacity, orientation and navigation ability, locomotion and they cause various other behavioural and physiological alterations.

Neonicotinoid pesticides were authorised by the Commission in the ‘90s. Since then, Member States have authorised products containing these molecules. Currently, they have become the leaders of the insecticides used in Europe.

Ever since their enter into the market, more than ten years ago, beekeepers have claimed that they were damaging their hives. The latest scientific studies have corroborated these claims.

The relevant regulation[1] provides for a review process concerning the authorisation of substances in case new scientific evidence indicates that they no longer fulfil the approval criteria, for example, because they pose a threat to animal health.

In addition, these insecticides, even at very low doses, have proved to act in synergy with fungi normally occuring in the hives leading to bee health problems.

Following request of the Austrian Ombudsman, the European Ombudsman has presented an enquiry to the Commission. The allegations: The Commission failed to take appropriate measures to address the issue of bee mortality linked to the use of certain neonicotinoids, such as clothianidin, thiamethoxam, fipronil, and imidacloprid, despite the availability of new scientific evidence highlighting the risks involved in the use of these substances.

The Commission will have to provide its answer by the end of June 2012.

More information here