Review of the Year: Neonicotinoids restricted

December 30, 2013

From: Farmers Weekly

Restrictions on the neonicotinoids as a crop protection product came into effect on 1 December – amid ongoing disagreement over whether a ban is justified.

Farm leaders have described the lack of an EU impact assessment to determine the effect of neonicotinoids on pollinators and crop production as “alarming”. But some scientific studies have blamed the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments for a decline in bee populations.

The NFU argues that the decline in bumblebees in Great Britain has slowed – and that the biodiversity of other wild bees has increased. It suggests that these biodiversity improvements are the result of agri-environmental measures put in place by farmers over the past two decades.

The full on-farm impact of restricting neonicotinoids as a seed treatment remains to be seen. But there is already considerable uncertainty about oilseed rape and linseed plantings in 2014 – and suggestions that crops will be hit hard.

Untreated plants are likely to be smaller, with more pest damage on leaves, according to Sygenta field technical manager Simon Roberts, which reported a 40% reduction in oilseed rape plant survival at the company’s crop demonstration plots at Rougham, Suffolk.

The NFU says it will support Syngenta’s legal challenge of the European Commission’s decision to restrict neonicotinoids, including thiamethoxam, which is distributed as Cruiser. The union says it is planning direct intervention in the case.

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