French prohibition of Cruiser OSR: Stéphane Le Foll takes a first step in the right direction. When will we see the prohibition of all insecticides from the same family?
Tuesday 03 July 2012
France has banned the Cruiser OSR (on oilseed rape). This decision goes in the right direction, but the Minister Stéphane Le Foll cannot stop there: there are all other systemic insecticides of neonicotinoid and phenyl-pyrazoles families (Gaucho, Regent Cruiser ...) that are involved in bee losses and should be banned.
The Minister should not stop where his predecessor Jean Glavany did. Glavany suspended the use of Gaucho on sunflower only in 1998. In 2003, AFSSA found that 69% of pollen collected by bees in various regions of France was contaminated with residues of Gaucho used on other crops. Maize is an important source of pollen for the hive, bees storing it for their winter consumption. Due to the fact that residues stay in the fields for long periods, Cruiser residues might be found together with Gaucho ones from previous treatments. This can lead to chronic poisoning which is extremely damaging to the bee colony. Abnormal mortalities of hives have been observed since 1995 on sunflower blooms and coincide with the use of these insecticides. Currently the average mortality of hives in France is around 30%, hardly compatible with the practice of beekeeping. It is the survival of pollinating insects and thus the production of food what is at stake. What would happen if there were 30% less cattle farms?
Dozens of scientific studies have been published showing a multitude of negative effects of these insecticides (neonicotinoids and phenyl-pyrazoles) on bees. The chemical industry says there is no link between what is observed in the laboratory and what happens on the ground. Europe is funding new studies, which will continue challenging this opinion. Why this waste of public money, when the best study is clear: just suspend the use of these insecticides and observe the consequences? This is what has been done in Italy, with the result, after several years: no drop in agricultural production, and decreased mortality hives from 37.5% to 15% in areas of intensive corn production. Result so convincing that the Italian Minister has extended the ban.
These insecticides are, of course, not the only cause of bee mortality, but the ban allows a more "sustainable" situation. So why not in France? The French beekeeping associations have requested Stephane Le Foll to follow the example of Italy, and defend the public interest to protect health and environment. But for this we must overcome the lobby of agrochemicals, very prominent in the administrative and political bodies in charge of agriculture.
 Thiametoxam, the active ingredient in Cruiser, is classified as potential carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor in the U.S. and Canada, but not in Europe. Even worse, in France the Cruiser OSR has not even a toxicological classification (ANSES file 2010-1392).