The European Commission has vowed to study the science before any EU-wide ban on pesticides linked to the decline of bees can even be considered.
The French government has banned the use of Cruiser OSR, a neonicotinoid-based seed treatment used on oilseed rape crops.
The French Ministry of Agriculture withdrew the licence for Cruiser on oilseed rape in June after two studies linked neonicotinoids to honey bee colony collapse disorder.
The studies claimed that neonicotinoids contain chemicals that disorientate bees and prevent them from finding their hives. But critics claim they are seriously flawed.
In a letter to George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, EU health and consumer commissioner John Dalli has stated that he will not be rushed into any knee-jerk reaction by France’s decision to ban Cruiser OSR, which is widely used by oilseed rape growers across the UK.
The EU commission will wait until the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has carried out a broad assessment into any link between neonicotinoids and bee health later this year before announcing any decision.
The EU’s position was backed by the vast majority of member states at a food chain and animal health meeting held in Brussels in July.
Mr Lyon said: “I am pleased that commissioner Dalli has stated quite clearly that he will not be rushed into a knee-jerk reaction on a European ban because of pressure from the French government.
“I am pleased that commissioner Dalli has stated quite clearly that he will not be rushed into a knee-jerk reaction on a European ban because of pressure from the French government.”
George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP
“Instead he will wait on a proper assessment by the European Food Safety Agency into whether there is any link between these pesticides and the decline in bee numbers.”
In his letter, Mr Dalli said decisions on the safety of products must be based on “proper and robust science based risk assessments”.
“These seed treatments are much more environmentally friendly as they target the pests in the seed-bed and they have been used extensively on over 3m ha of oilseed rape in Europe over the last few years without incident,” said Mr Lyon.
“It would surely be a retrograde step if UK growers were forced to go back to the days of indiscriminate blanket spraying of their crops unless there was independent scientific evidence of a proven risk.”
The ban in France does not affect British growers and Cruiser is still free to use as normal in the current growing season.
Syngenta, which produces Cruiser, a seed treatment coated on to rapeseeds, has vowed to fight the ban in France.
The Swiss agrichemical company is taking its case to the Conseil d’Etat, the highest court in France.
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