The European Commission was right to ban the use of three bee-killing pesticides, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled.
European Commission was right to ban dangerous pesticides
In 2013, the European Commission decided to ban three neonicotinoids pesticides because they believed there was a risk to bees and pollinators.
Since then, further evidence has revealed that 40% of wild bees have been extinguished in more than 10% of their range due to neonicotinoid use.
Based on this finding, the court rejected the appeal from Bayer, who produce the pesticides.
Bayer argued that the European Commission could only act to protect the environment if previously agreed criteria were no longer met. This would have undermined the EU’s ‘precautionary principle’ and the ability of the commission to take action that would prevent environmental harm
However, the Court has determined that the commission could base its decisions on an assessment of environmental risk based on any new scientific evidence and could rely on the precautionary principle to take a widespread of measures that it decided would reduce the likely occurrence of environmental harm.
The Court has also ruled that Bayer should pay legal costs incurred by environmental groups.
However, in the UK there is still a lack of certainty about pesticide use, and there is no clear plan to replace the EU’s pesticide risk assessment processes with a domestic version.
There is also no process underway, or parliamentary debate, in the UK to secure better protection for bees in the future and the risk of history repeating itself and massive harm being done to wildlife before action is taken remains just as likely now as it was before the approval of these insecticides.
CEO of Buglife, Matt Shardlow said: ‘This is a fantastic result for Europe’s bees, it gives the EC more authority to take sweeping action to prevent environmental harm and re-confirms the importance of the precautionary principle in enabling this action.
‘However, is casts a stark light on the situation in the UK where there is increasing uncertainty about the application of the precautionary principle and the recent decision of George Eustace to allow the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet clearly failed to protect the environment or to properly risk assess the harm to the environment that this use would have caused to freshwater life.
‘It is of great importance that the UK establishes a transparent risk assessment function for pesticides and introduces new approval tests for wild bees, butterflies and ground beetles – all of which were impacted by the approval of neonicotinoid insecticides.’
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