Syngenta neonicotinoid request: Good news for bees

We’re part of The Bee Coalition, the UK’s main environmental groups joining to call for a complete ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides that are toxic to bees. We’ve got good news! The pesticides giant Syngenta has retracted its request to use harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.

Many neonicotinoid uses have been banned in the EU for at least two years due to scientific concerns that they cause long term harm to bees and other pollinators.

Syngenta had put in an application for the UK government to grant special permission to use the banned pesticides for winter oilseed rape. Normally such “derogations” are granted where there are exceptional and urgent circumstances and there is no other reasonable way to address the identified problem.

No clear need for Syngenta neonicotinoid request

It is hard to see how this was the case here. The ban has been in place since December. In any case, one of the objectives of the ban is to monitor what happens when the substance is not used. There was no publicly available relevant information or evidence demonstrating an urgent need for this.

Normally it would be growers who would make a request and support it with evidence. Here, Syngenta applied “just in case”! The request was premature and pre-emptive.

Some parts of the government had agreed to it, but because of the lack of transparency, it is impossible to know what arguments Syngenta provided to persuade them.

Last week, 38 Degrees organised a Downing Street protest, attended by The Bee Coalition (which includes ClientEarth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, RSPB and Soil Association). The groups called on the government to refuse Syngenta’s request for an exemption to the ban.

In the final decision-making stage, Syngenta retracted its request on Friday (4 July).

This is good news, but The Bee Coalition’s work continues. Read our latest news page for updates in the coming weeks.

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