Chemical giants challenging EU over pesticide ban
In August 2013 Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, started legal proceedings against the European Commission in an attempt to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world.
The companies claimed that the ban was "unjustified" and "disproportionate" and were bringing their cases before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
"We would prefer not to take legal action but have no other choice given our firm belief that the Commission wrongly linked thiamethoxam to the decline in bee health," Syngenta chief operating officer John Atkin said in a statement.
Campaigners such as the Sum of Us, which has now collected almost half a million signatures on a petition demanding that the companies drop their action, argue that clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril.
The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain.
The EU banned these bee-killers in May 2013, after a massive public campaign and a clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations. Bayer fought against the ban every step of the way, using tactics taken from Big Tobacco, pouring millions into lobbying and fake science to stop decision-makers from taking action.
Campaigners say that companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics --so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits.
The current ban only lasts for two years (until May 2015) before it's up for review. It came into force on 1st December 2013 and covers three neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.
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