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Suspension of neonicotinoids - how the ban will work

Neonicotinoid seed treatments have been used by farmers for the last 20 years, but a suspension on their use later this year could have a big impact on the farming industry.

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The European Commission’s decision last week to ban the use of thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid affects crops which are attractive to bees.


Head of agronomy and crop protection sector at Agricultural Industries Confederation, Hazel Doonan speaks to Farmers Guardian about the ban in practice.

What do the new rules mean?

Member states must make the necessary amendments to the authorisations of thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid by September 30, 2013.

When will the changes come into effect?

After this date, the use of thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid as a seed treatment or foliar application will not be authorised on crops which are attractive to bees.

The treatment of seed will stop on September 30. However, sales and the use of treated seed is possible until November 30, 2013.

Which crops will be affected?

Oilseed rape seed treated with thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid can be sold and drilled up until November 30, 2013.

Maize treated with thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid can be drilled this spring but not after November 30, 2013. It cannot be drilled next spring.

The use of these products on winter cereals (sown before December 31 each year) will still be permitted, but use on spring cereals for sowing on or after January 1, 2014 will not be permitted.

What will be unaffected by the ban?

Certain crops, which are listed in the legislation annexes relating to neonicotinoids, are still permitted to be treated with the products post-flowering or when sown in glasshouses.

Crops not listed in the annexes are not considered to be attractive to bees and therefore fall outside the ban - this includes sugar beet and potatoes.

How will the regulations be implemented?

The draft implementing regulation permits member states to operate shorter timescales and also to continue with any existing national prohibitions in place.

As an example, this would permit France to continue its internal ban on treatment of rape for domestic use.

It is therefore also possible some member states will introduce a ban on use before November 30, 2013. There are no indications the UK would be one of these.


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