Syngenta withdraws neonicotinoid emergency use application
SYNGENTA has withdrawn an application for the emergency use of its neonicotinoid seed treatment on winter oilseed rape in the UK, after failing to gain Government approval in time to put the derogation in place.
The company applied for what would effectively have been a derogation from the EU ban on neonicotinoids earlier this year. It would have allowed UK farmers to plant 180,600 hectares of its Cruiser OSR this autumn, under strict conditions.
Farmers will not be aable to use Cruiser OSR this autumn
Defra’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides confirmed back in May the criteria for an emergency authorisation had been met. But by the middle of this week the Government, despite Defra Secretary Owen Paterson seemingly being in favour of the derogation, had still not made a decision.
Syngenta had been warning over the past week or so, that with an early planting season expected, it needed a decision by the end of June to put the emergency use option in place, given the various conditions surrounding it.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon the company said, following an assessment of the current planting schedule for growers, it has decided to withdraw its application.
However, the company has signalled to try again next year.
“Whilst the Advisory Committee on Pesticides has indicated that the criteria for emergency use has been met, there has been insufficient time to concludeon the conditions for verifying and auditing planting locations which were specific to this limited use application,” the statement said.
“In making the application, 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.
“As the first year in which farmers will be unable to use neonicotinoid treated seed for winter oil seed rape, we welcome the fact that the government will be assessing the establishment of the crop in the UK this season.
“Based on this assessment, Syngenta will consider making a new application for the 2015/16 season to ensure British farmers have access to a technology which helps them to grow crops sustainably and which is safe for bees.
“We also welcome the fact that the government’s opposition to the EU-wide restriction of neonicotinoid pesticides remains unchanged.
“More broadly, Syngenta remains supportive of the government’s National Pollinator Strategy and fully intends to continue our work with farmers to provide food and habitat for bees, which is the key driver for their long term health, through Operation Pollinator.”
It is understood the decision on whether to grant the application had been on the agenda for discussion at Cabinet level.
Guy Smith, NFU vice president, said the NFU was ‘disappointed’ Syngenta has withdrawn applicationn and expressed frustration that the Government had been unable to make a decision in the timeframe required.
“It is very frustrating that, after the Advisory Committee on Pesticides had indicated that the conditions for approval had been met, it was not possible for a decision to be made in time for Syngenta to prepare seeds for this year’s planting,” he said.
“It is also of concern that the whole issue has been heavily politicised and manipulated with misinformation by campaign groups with their own agenda against pesticide use, without concern for the consequences for this country’s productive capacity or indeed for the potential unintended consequences for bee populations.
“This loss of this treatment will make it more complicated to grow oilseed rape this season. The NFU will closely monitor the effects with a view to supporting a further application next year.”
The Agricultural Industries Confederation also expressed its disappointment but said it recognised the ‘finite timeline in which to gain the approval and implement effective stewardship safeguards’ the supply companies would been required to do.
Paul Rooke, head of AIC’s seed sector, said: “The result is that planting this autumn will see oilseed rape seed being drilled without the proven protection against pests that neonicotinoid products have offered in recent years.
“We hope that the Government will monitor crops during the coming season to evaluate the impact on crop growth and ultimately yield of one of the UK’s major crops.
“As ever, AIC is committed to decisions based on sound science rather than political idealogy or public scaremongering.”
But Emma Hockridge, Soil Association head of policy welcomed the move, describing it as a ‘victory for pollinators and for science’
“There was no good reason for allowing this derogation and the impact could have been catastrophic. A global assessment on systemic pesticides recently highlighted 800 peer reviewed studies which highlights the risks to birds, earthworms and other pollinators as well as bees,” she said.
Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “Our under-threat bees can breathe a bit easier this evening.
“We’re delighted Syngenta has withdrawn this application – the scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to bee decline is stacking up.”