Revealed: Vast Shipments of Banned Neonics and Bee Killers to Europe and UK

The revelations are likely to spark further calls for the European Commission to follow through on its commitment to end the manufacture for export of chemicals banned for use in the EU.

The Commission made this surprise commitment one year ago after A previous Earthen and Public Eye survey revealed the scale of EU exports of banned older-generation pesticides such as atrazine and paraquat.

Despite this, he said he is “still examining options” to end such exports and does not expect to have a concrete proposal to change the law until 2023.

It is a blatant disregard for the crisis we are facing in terms of biodiversity loss

When Earthen and Public Eye shared the findings of our latest survey with Belgian Minister of Climate and Environment Zakia Khattabi, she said that security and sustainability “do not stop at EU borders” and that Belgium fully supported the Commission’s ambition to put an end to banned chemical exports.

In the meantime, she added, “at the Belgian level, I asked my administration to draw up an inventory of exports of banned chemicals and to launch a study to identify all the legal levers available to deal with the issue. .

France, the second largest exporter of banned neonics after Belgium, has already passed a landmark national law banning exports of banned pesticides, which will come into force early next year.

However, other exporting countries have shown less enthusiasm for legal crackdown.

The UK, which since the start of this year has completely separated from the EU’s pesticide export regime, has so far given no indication that it intends to follow the example of Europe to end exports of banned pesticides.

At the end of 2020, pesticide company NuFarm notified UK exports of 42 tonnes of insecticides containing banned neonic imidacloprid, destined for countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Tunisia and Sudan.

Companies exporting these chemicals have declared Earthen and Public Eye that their products were safe if used according to the label and approved for use by the countries that imported them.

A spokesperson for German pesticide giant Bayer – the company whose exports of neonics are the most banned after Syngenta – said: “The mere fact that a plant protection product is not authorized or [is] banned in the EU says nothing about its safety.

“Many other regulatory agencies around the world also have very reliable, robust, well-functioning and sophisticated regulatory systems. “

But pesticide activists in importing countries have dismissed the claims. Layla Liebetrau, project manager for Kenya’s Route to Food Initiative, which advocates for the right to food, said the impact of neonics on pollinators was “a threat to food production and therefore a threat to food security ”in Kenya.

She said Earthen: “On the part of the exporting countries, I think this is a violation of universally accepted human rights and a blatant disregard for the crisis we are facing in terms of biodiversity loss.

“On the importing side, this reinforces the fact that many developing countries lack sophisticated systems to assess the risks of individual pesticides and the ability to make informed decisions. There is an ethical problem, and it has no borders.

Africa represents a small, but growing, share of the global pesticide market, and there is less research available on the effects of agrochemicals in African environments than in Europe or North America.

However, farmers in Kenya and Ghana – two of the 21 African countries to which the EU exports banned neonics – recently reported having to pollinate crops by hand due to a decrease in insects linked to the use of pesticides.


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