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Pesticides and bees

The EU has one of the strictest regulatory systems in the world concerning the approval of pesticides. All pesticides on the market have been subject to a thorough assessment to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment.

Insecticides are, by their nature, toxic to bees. However, their use should still be possible if exposure does not occur or is minimised to levels which do not generate harmful effects.

In 2012, new scientific findings indicate that some insecticides belonging to group of neonicotinoids showed high risks for bees.

On Commission's request, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed these new studies, reviewed the neonicotinoids dossiers as regard their impact on bees and published conclusions, based on which in 2013 Commission restricted use of three pesticidespdf. Another pesticide reviewed by EFSA – fipronil – has also been subject to restrictionspdf.

Regulation on Plant Protection Products

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 provides clear criteria for the approval of active substances including criteria in relation to honey bees.

It requires a fact-based approach and appropriate risk assessment of any active substance. They can be approved only if their use:

  • will result in a negligible exposure of honeybees, or

  • has no unacceptable acute or chronic effects on colony survival and development.

In this framework, the Commission laid down new "data requirements" for pesticide dossiers. The dossiers for active substances and plant protection products have to comply with the minimum data requirements set under Commission Regulation (EU) 283/2013 and Commission Regulation (EU) 284/2013. The new data requirements further strengthen the authorisation process for plant protection products and request for instance several new requirements as regards bees.

Risk Assessment of Plant Protection Products on bees

On Commission request, EFSA has developed a guidance document on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees and provided an opinionpdf on the science behind the development of a risk assessment of Plant Protection Products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp and solitary bees).