Neonicotinoid insecticides and honey bee health

Directive 2010/21/EU amending Annex I to Council Directive 91/414/EEC as regards the specific provisions relating to clothianidin, thiamethoxam, fipronil and imidacloprid was adopted recently in order to address the problem of depletion of honey bees arising from exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides.

1. Can the Commission state whether the Member States have taken the necessary measures to comply with Directive 2010/21/EU?

2. Can the Commission supply specific figures indicating whether the legislative measures adopted (e.g. Directive 2010/21/EU and Regulation (EC) No1107/2009) are sufficient and are contributing to prevent depletion of honey bees?

3. What other concrete measures is the Commission planning to adopt in order to protect honey bees from neonicotinoids?

4. Following the publication on 30 May 2003 by the US Environmental Protection Agency of the ‘Pesticide Fact Sheet on Conditional Registration of Clothianidin’, can the Commission state:

– if it is aware of the severe data gaps listed in the above mentioned fact sheet (‘developmental immunotoxicity study, additional analysis of test materials used in mutagenic studies, rotational crop residue fields trials with mature soybeans, aerobic aquatic metabolism, seed leaching study, whole sediment acute toxicity to freshwater invertebrates and field test for pollinators’);

– if it is aware of the following, as stated in the same fact sheet: ‘Clothianidin is highly toxic to honey bees on an acute contact basis (LD50 > 0.0439 μg/bee). It has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen. In honey bees, the effects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects in the queen’?

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

1. The Commission is currently gathering information from Member States on the implementation measures to comply with Directive 2010/21/EU(1). This point is constantly on the agenda of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health — section Pesticide Legislation.

2. Until today, no link between neonicotinoid insecticides, if correctly used, and the problem of bee mortality could be established, and therefore figures are not available. Nevertheless, the Commission is confident that measures laid down in the pesticide legislation contribute to ensure a high level of protection for bees, including honeybees.

3. As regards the concrete measures the Commission is planning to adopt, the Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E‑000160/2012(2).

4. EU legislation for plant protection product is risk based. Even if insecticides are, by their nature, toxic to bees, their use may still be possible if exposure is minimised to levels which do not generate harmful effects. To that aim specific risk mitigation measures shall be applied. Due to the different data requirements provided for in the EU legislation, the data of the EU dossier, evaluated and peer reviewed in the framework of the EU pesticide legislation, and the data evaluated by US Environmental Protection Agency, although refer to the same active substance ‘clothianidin’, are not comparable.