Risk assessment of pesticides on bees: European beekeepers call on their governments to adopt new EFSA Guidelines!

Tuesday 01 October 2013

risk assessment EFSA bees

1.10.2013, Brussels - PRESS RELEASE
On 2nd and 3rd October 2013, European Members States and EU Commission representatives will meet in Brussels to discuss the new EFSA Guidance Document on Risk Assessment of Pesticide for Bees. 
This aims to provide the foundation for all future risk assessment methodologies. 
European beekeepers urge their Member States to vote for a thorough adoption (1) of the EFSA proposal, and not to water-down EFSA's new Risk Assessment methodologies.

Context: The EFSA Scientific Opinion, published in May 2012, acknowledged that neonicotinoids, insecticides accused of increasing bee mortality on a large scale, have never been properly evaluated. 
The EFSA Scientific Opinion identified several information gaps, including major weaknesses in the risk assessment procedure (2). Emerging issues such as: • chronic toxicity, • sub-lethal effects, • larval toxicity, • different routes of exposure via planting-dust, surface water and food

These routes of pesticide exposure were not properly taken into account by the old Risk Assessment (3). The European Commission has asked EFSA to develop new risk assessment guidelines for pesticides and bees. 
Published in July 2013, the so-called Guidance Document on Bees (4) will be discussed on 2nd and 3rd October by EU Member States and the EU Commission, at the Standing Committee meeting on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

Why you should support the EFSA Guidance on risk assessment of pesticides on bees? Firstly, the European Beekeeping Coordination emphasises that the EFSA Guidance comes from a group of independent experts, who have no conflicts of interest; 
This is not the case for the existing guidelines, where there were severe conflicts of interest (5). 
Moreover, the new Risk Assessment methodologies will consider most of the currently known sources of pesticide exposure, as well as their chronic effects on larvae and adult bees.

The European Beekeeping Coordination demands that: risk assessments must meet regulatory criteria. These criteria stipulate that a pesticide may only only authorized if its use:
"will result in a negligible exposure for honeybees, 
or has no unacceptable acute or chronic effects on colony survival and development,
 taking into account effects on honeybee larvae and honeybee behaviour."(6)

According to European beekeepers, in recent years years, bee-losses rose to 30 % in several EU regions, triggering a crash in European honey production and increased honey imports. 
Since the mass bee-deaths of the 1990s, in France, imports of honey have increased from 6,000 tons to 25,000 tons per year.

The European Beekeeping Coordination calls on all Member States to vote in favour of the EFSA guidelines, without surrendering to the lobbying and pressure of the pesticide manufacturers. 
We also ask Member States to consider our suggested improvements (7) when discussing the EFSA Guidance; and to remember that the survival of bees and pollinators, environmental safety, as well as our food security is at stake.

European beekeepers call on Member States and European Commission to learn from past experience, and to ensure that pesticides authorized in the future, will not harm bees and other pollinators.


Notes :
(1) http://bee-life.eu/en/article/48/A loss of 7% of colonies after exposure to one pesticide is not acceptable, especially when one considers that bees are exposed multiple pesticides to in real field conditions. 
Honey production is an indicator of the bees' health and must be taken into account. 
Tests required to evaluate sub-lethal health effects should also be introduced. 
Finally, training for risk assessors should be implemented when necessary. 
When scaled downed, risk factors have to be approved by Authorities such as EFSA.

(2) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/efsajo...

(3) http://bee-life.eu/medias/position_...

(4) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajo...

(5) http://bee-life.eu/medias/news/futu...

(6) Point 3.8.3 de l’Annexe II du Règlement 1107/2009

(7) http://bee-life.eu/en/article/48/

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For more information please contact: Francesco Panella, spokesman for the European Beekeeping Coordination, Tel: +32 10 47 16 34, coeur@bee-life.eu - www.bee-life.eu