Neonicotinoids: foliar spray uses confirmed as a risk to bees

Neonicotinoid pesticides applied as foliar sprays pose a risk to bees, EFSA has confirmed. The Authority has published assessments on the risks to bees from clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam for all uses other than seed treatments and granules. In cases where the assessment could be completed, high risks were either identified or could not be excluded. In other cases the risk assessment could not be finalised due to data gaps.

The conclusions are in line with those reached by EFSA two years ago, when it assessed the risks to bees from the three substances when used as seed treatments or granules.

The European Commission requested the assessments concerning all other uses after imposing tighter restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids in 2013.

The use of the three substances in seed or soil treatments is currently prohibited on crops attractive to bees and on cereals other than winter cereals, except for uses in greenhouses. Their use in foliar treatments is prohibited on crops attractive to bees and on cereals, except in greenhouses or after flowering.

Next steps

When it brought in the restrictions, the Commission said that within two years it would initiate a review of any new scientific information on the risks posed to bees by the three neonicotinoids applied as seed treatment and granules.

As part of this process, EFSA has asked national authorities, research institutions, industry and other interested parties to submit new relevant information.

All information should be submitted by 30 September 2015. Following receipt of a further mandate from the European Commission, EFSA will then review the material and offer conclusions concerning an updated risk assessment.

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