EPA watching weekend EU vote on neonicotinoids science

27 April 2018

We're standing by for results from a forthcoming vote by the EU on whether more restrictions should be applied to the use of neonicotinoids in member states.

“When new information is released, the EPA always takes a good look at the science, evaluating it to see if there’s something we need to factor into our thinking here,” says EPA General Manager for Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter.

“While existing New Zealand rules around the use of neonicotinoids are working, there could still be instances where non-target organisms, like bees and insects are exposed to the insecticide.

“When used incorrectly, neonicotinoids could potentially have negative impacts on pollinators,” says Dr Thomson-Carter.

“The current New Zealand rules include not spraying insecticides in close proximity to bee hives or crops with budding or flowering plants where bees may gather and feed.

“The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published updated risk assessments of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – which confirmed that many uses of these represent a risk to the three types of bees they assessed,” says Dr Thomson-Carter.

The 27 April European Commission vote would effectively ban the open air use of neonicotinoid insecticides. Seeds treated with these substances would be allowed to be used in permanent greenhouses, but only if the resulting crop stayed within a permanent greenhouse for its entire lifecycle.

The EPA works closely with the OECD-initiated Pollinator Incidents Information System, through the EPA’s Pollinator Strategy.

“This system is building a global picture of bee health and incidents, so we can compare what’s happening in New Zealand with other countries bearing in mind that agricultural practices in New Zealand are not the same as in the EU.

“This is key to finding practical ways to protect our pollinators, which can only be achieved by sharing information and raising awareness among chemical manufacturers, bee keepers and the public,” says Dr Thomson-Carter.