Opposition Mounts Against New Bee-killing Pesticide Awaiting Approval in Ireland
August 25th, 2016
A new pesticide, found to be harmful to bees, is currently awaiting approval for sale in Ireland.
Developed by agrochemical firm Bayer, flupyradifurone is the first in a new class of pesticide called Butenolides. Environmental groups PAN Europe and Bee Life say, however, that its chemical structure and mode of action make it very similar to Neonicotinoids, the class of pesticide currently ‘restricted’ in the EU and banned in France, due to their association with mass die-offs in bee populations.
Planned to be sold under the brand name Sivanto, the systemic neurotoxin works on aphids, whiteflies, mites, and other “sucking pests” by disabling nerve impulses, much like neonicotinoids, which were last year deemed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be “probably carcinogenic”. However, the list of species at risk if exposed to the insecticide does not stop there, and may include humans. Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, New Mexico, said: “The research shows both indirect effects and direct effects to fish, reptiles, mollusks, mammals—the whole suite of life.”
As part of the EU authorisation, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed flupyradifurone’s risk to bees, finding that “a high risk from the oral route of exposure could not be excluded”. Despite this, EFSA’s experts claimed that they did not have sufficient evidence to say that flupyradifurone caused “adverse acute or long-term effects to honey bee colonies”. However, the fact that almost no data on bumble bees and solitary bees had been provided, given that these pollinators are generally more susceptible to insecticides than honey bees, was called into question by PAN Europe and Bee Life. Francesco Panella, president of Bee Life, criticised the inconsistency of European institutions, restricting the uses of certain molecules for their risk to bees and gaps in knowledge, while authorising similar molecules posing the same risks.
Following the European Commission’s decision late last year to authorise this pesticide, authorisation is now in process for a number of EU countries, including Ireland. Bees are responsible for pollinating 30% of food crops, and so their loss would have devastating consequences for food security. In response to the risks posed by the potential introduction of this pesticide, an online petition has been set up, calling on the Irish Government not to allow the use if this pesticide in Ireland.
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