Neonicotinoids: EFSA evaluates emergency uses

EFSA has examined the scientific basis for emergency authorisations of neonicotinoid pesticides which were granted in seven EU Member States in 2017.

EFSA’s reports evaluate on a country-by-country basis whether other pesticides could have been substituted for the neonicotinoid products and assess the availability of non-insecticidal alternatives.

In 2013 the European Commission placed restrictions on the use of pesticide products containing the active substances clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. This followed an assessment by EFSA which showed that the substances posed risks to bee health.

Member State governments may override the restrictions and issue emergency authorisations in cases where there is evidence that the threat from particular plant pests cannot be contained by other means. Several Member States have repeatedly granted such authorisations since 2013.

In 2017 EFSA developed a methodology for evaluating requests to use insecticides when there is a serious danger to plant health. The European Commission subsequently asked EFSA to use the methodology to assess the exceptional uses of neonicotinoid pesticides authorised in 2017 by Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

The reports consider only the justification for issuing the emergency authorisations. The methodology does not cover measures taken by Member States to mitigate the risk to bees and the environment from neonicotinoid-based pesticides.

The reports – which contain detailed assessments of the emergency authorisations granted in each country – have been shared with risk managers at the European Commission.

In May 2018, following endorsement by Member States, the European Commission further restricted the use of neonicotinoids on the basis of a new risk assessment from EFSA.

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