A French court has thrown out an appeal by Syngenta to ban a pesticide in France linked to the decline of bee populations.
The Versailles Administrative Court upheld its ban on Cruiser OSR, a neonicotinoid-based seed treatment used on oilseed rape crops.
The ministry said it was banning the pesticide after studies linked neonicotinoids to honey bee colony collapse disorder.
However, the ban in France does not affect British growers and Cruiser is still free to use as normal in the current planting season.
In a statement, Syngenta said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision, which was taken “despite numerous scientific experiments, including those published by France’s Health Safety Agency (ANSES) and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), which failed to show any risk to the health of bee populations”.
A spokesman for Syngenta said: “The original decision of the Ministry ignored the fact that Cruiser OSR had been used safely on millions of hectares of oilseed rape for the past 10 years without any negative impact on bee health. Growers and the value chain have already lost up to €200m (£156m) of economic value.
“Although the financial cost to Syngenta is relatively small in comparison to the impact on growers and the value chain, we will continue to contest the withdrawal of the Cruiser OSR registration.”
Syngenta added that it would be taking the case to the Conseil d’Etat, the highest court in France.
In a letter published in The Independent, Phil Botham, Syngenta’s head of product safety, Europe, defended Cruiser’s safety record, saying it had been used on “several million hectares of oilseed rape in Europe over the last 10 years without any damage to bees”.
Dr Botham wrote: “The worldwide decline in bee populations is a genuine cause for concern but there is no agreement on its causes. Given the global nature of the problem, the objectively assessed facts point away from plant protection products being the dominant causal factor.
“Loss of habitat and colony collapse disorder, brought on by the parasitic mite Varroa and the viruses they carry, as well as other honeybee diseases such as Nosema, are significant contributors to declining bee populations.”