17 April 1997

Maker defends Gaucho

SUGGESTIONS that systemic insecticide Gaucho (imidacloprid) is devastating the French honey industry have been hotly refuted by manufacturer Bayer.

French bee farmers saw a 60% slump in output last year. They now claim that millions of bees which fed on sunflowers grown from Gaucho-treated seed were disoriented by the persistent insecticide and died.

"We dont believe the insecticide poses any risks," says Peter Brain, regulatory affairs manager for Bayer UK.

"There is quite strong evidence that climatic effects are to blame. But the media has hooked into the pesticide angle, even though it is just one of the factors being considered."

Detailed analysis shows no Gaucho residue in bees, detailed monitoring has revealed no ill effects and honey production has fallen in areas where no Gaucho was used, Mr Brain adds. &#42