By Lauren Dean and Olivia Midgley
NFU vice-president Guy Smith has called for Efsa to use its extended review deadline to look at the impact of the ban on EU production and increased imports after costing farmers almost £500 million.
The anticipated review of three neonicotinoid pesticides has been delayed by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) until autumn this year.
It came as an EU report found the ban on the pesticides had cost farmers almost £500 million.
The EU food watchdog had been due to publish a re-evaluation of the scientific evidence of the safety of each pesticide – currently under EU restrictions – to bees this month.
Efsa said it needed more time to consider the ’very large amount of information received during the call for data’.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith was in Brussels this week to hear evidence from the EU’s Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture (HFFA) report which showed a decrease in yield of about 5 per cent and up to 22 per cent in places, costing EU farmers €0.5 billion (£0.43bn).
"There was also a negative impact on quality,” Mr Smith said. “It was a timely reminder that the ban is impacting on the competitive position of EU farmers when the EU is importing huge amounts of proteins and oilseeds from countries where these crop protection materials remain widely used.
"It is clear the Commission needs to urgently look at this ban not only to look at the impact on pollinators but also the impact on EU production and increased imports."
The announcement of the delay came just days after Friends of the Earth (FOE) published a report calling for neonicotinoid pesticides to be wiped of their legal use on wheat ‘to protect bees, birds and butterflies’.
FOE bee campaigner Dave Timms said: “Since the EU restrictions on neonicotinoids were introduced there has been growing evidence of the threat these chemicals pose to a range of bee species and other wildlife.
“It is absolutely right that these should be properly examined – it is a shame that this means we will have to wait longer for the review to be completed.”
He said he hoped the review would lead to not only a permanent ban on neonic pesticides, but for the ban to be extended to all crops.