Syngenta backs down over pesticide
Company pulls application to used banned substance
Chemical company Syngenta has withdrawn its “emergency” application to use a banned insecticide following pressure from campaigners.
The companies controversial pesticide was given a two-year ban by the European Union in 2013 due to research linking it to a decline in bee populations. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide and in June an international scientific review concluded that contamination was so pervasive it threatened global food production.
However Syngenta argued that there was a future pest threat to oil seed crops that justified an emergency exemption and the government’s advisory committee on pesticides said the criteria for an exemption had been met, although the evidence of the threat was not made public.
Over 200,000 people protested against Syngenta’s application via the 38 Degrees campaign site, while 35,000 wrote to environment secretary Owen Paterson via Avaaz and another 6,000 Friends of the Earth supporters asked ministers to “stand firm against Syngenta”.
Andrew Pendleton, from Friends of the Earth, told the Guardian “We’re delighted Syngenta has withdrawn this application. The scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to bee decline is stacking up. Ministers are currently finalising their action plan for protecting Britain’s bees and it must get tough on all the causes of bee decline, including pesticides.”
Shadow environment minister Barry Gardiner also welcomed the withdrawal of the application: “It would have driven a coach and horses through the temporary ban put in place to gather scientific evidence. But we need a serious pollinator strategy from government: neonicotinoids are not the only problem.”
“Following an assessment of the current planting schedule for growers, Syngenta has decided to withdraw its application,” said a company spokesman. “Syngenta was clear that in order to supply the product to British farmers and, importantly, to ensure its effective stewardship, an approval from government was required by the end of June.” The spokesman said the company was considering re-applying in 2015.
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