The European Commission is calling for new data to be submitted on the use of three neonicotinoid seed treatments as it looks to review the ban on these insecticides.
The use of these three products was restricted by the European Union on flowering crops likely to be attractive to bees due to their perceived harmful effect on these insects.
The EU restrictions started in December 2013 and it promised to review its ban in two years. Therefore, the EC’s scientific arm, the European Food Safety Authority, is now calling for new information by the end of September 2015.
“This is largely routine and what you would expect as the commission is committed to review the restrictions on neonicotinoids this year,” says the NFU’s horticultural and bee expert, Chris Hartfield.
The EU restricted the use of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid – which were used largely in the UK as seed dressings in oilseed rape to control cabbage stem flea beetle, and promised to review the ban by December 2015.
Farm minister George Eustice has said Defra will consider an emergency application for growers to use neonicotinoid seed treatments this autumn.
The NFU has been working with pesticide manufacturers on the request, arguing that growers face a threat of heavy losses from cabbage stem flea beetle unless an exemption is granted.
In the first season of the neonicotinoid ban, some 3.5% of the English oilseed rape crop was lost to flea beetle damage.
About 5% of the oilseed rape crop originally planted was lost to flea beetle damage last autumn, with 1.5% redrilled, leaving 22,000ha ripped up in England, equating to some 3.5%.