A group of almost 90 MEPs has written to the European Commission to complain that a vote on a full neonicotinoids ban due to take place this week could be postponed again.
In December, representatives from member states met to discuss Commission proposals to extend the ban on flowering crops to all outdoor crops, but a vote on the matter was delayed so the conclusions of a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) risk assessment could be taken into account.
Although the EFSA report, which was published last month, suggested neonicotinoids pose a risk to bees, it also contained evidence which showed they could continue to be used under controlled conditions – something welcomed by European farmers’ group Copa-Cogeca.
MEPs have now been made aware there may not be enough support for a full ban at this week’s meeting, potentially holding up the vote again.
Their letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis reads: “After some delay, EFSA completed their risk assessment and published the conclusions on February 28 2018, stating ‘most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees’.
“A political decision can now be made based on the most recent science as published by EFSA.
“There is serious indication that the Commission might not submit its proposals for a vote and the decision might be postponed again due to the absence of the necessary qualified majority.
“Further delay in taking the decision will result in continued exposure of bees and other pollinators to toxins that kill them, with severe consequences for food production, particularly honey.
“We urge the Commission to do its utmost to convince member states’ representatives in order to obtain a qualified majority in favour of its original proposal at the meeting on 22nd – 23rd of March.
“And we urge all member states, particularly those which are blocking the proposal for the ban, to take their responsibilities and support the European Commission’s proposal without any further delay.”
Farming groups continue to fear the ban will be given the go ahead after Defra Secretary Michael Gove reversed the UK Government’s position and threw his weight behind the planned restrictions.