FRANTA – DEROGARE DE LA INTERZICEREA NEONICOTINOIDELOR
După ce a anunțat joi (3 septembrie) ca acorda 30 de miliarde de euro în sprijinul unei tranziții ecologice, guvernul francez a prezentat, de asemenea, un proiect de lege controversat care autorizează o derogare de la interzicerea neonicotinoidelor.
Într-un interviu acordat EURACTIV Franța, europarlamentarul german Martin Häusling a explicat de ce contestă decizia.
Ca răspuns la dificultățile cu care se confruntă industria sfeclei de zahăr, guvernul francez a anunțat la începutul lunii august că dorește să introducă o derogare pentru a autoriza din nou utilizarea neonicotinoidelor, interzise din 2018. Ca agricultor ecologic și europarlamentar , ești îngrijorat de asta?
Bineînțeles că sunt îngrijorat. Derogările ar trebui să rămână excepționale. În zilele noastre, însă, țările europene iau din ce în ce mai multe; Austria, Polonia și în curând în Franța.
Cu cât există mai multe derogări, cu atât mai multă presiune va fi asupra altor țări europene care nu le adoptă. De exemplu, în Germania, nu s-au acordat derogări până acum. Dacă Franța refolosește neonicotinoidele, fermierii germani se vor putea întreba în mod legitim: „Și noi de ce nu?” Riscul este ca interdicția europeană să devină în cele din urmă nulă.
Prin această decizie, Franța trimite, de asemenea, un semnal puternic către lumea exterioară, către importatori etc. Riscul este ca interdicția europeană să devină în cele din urmă învechită. Dacă reautorizăm pesticidele pe care le-am interzis anterior, alte țări, precum Brazilia, vor crede că politica europeană în materie de pesticide nu este la fel de restrictivă pe cât pretinde.
Dacă alte țări au primit derogări, Franța nu se adaptează doar la concurența de pe piață?
Motivele din spatele reautorizării neonicotinoidelor sunt pur economice. Dar acesta nu este nici un argument valid, nici o soluție. Când derogarea expiră [în conformitate cu articolul 53 din regulamentul UE, un stat membru al UE poate autoriza utilizarea neonicotinoidelor în cadrul derogărilor de până la 120 de zile], fermierii se vor confrunta cu aceeași problemă.
Este esențial ca aceste derogări să rămână excepții de facto și să reamintească statelor membre că argumentele economice nu sunt suficiente pentru a fi acordate.
Atunci când cultivatorii de sfeclă de zahăr se confruntă cu dificultăți, interzicerea utilizării pesticidelor nu poate fi ridicată atât de brusc, cu riscul ca următoarea industrie să o ceară și ea. [După anunțul guvernului francez la începutul lunii august, industria porumbului a cerut și ea reintroducerea neonicotinoidelor].
Trei tipuri de neonicotinoide au fost interzise de UE, totuși in Franta legea privind biodiversitatea din 2016 merge mai departe decât aceasta, interzicând cinci. Se poate spune cu adevărat că Franța este un elev prost?
Nu, clar nu. Faptul că Franța a luat această decizie m-a surprins foarte mult. A fost susținut ca un model de interzicere a tuturor neonicotinoizilor, iar politica sa a fost una dintre cele mai stricte din Europa.
Această decizie este cu atât mai surprinzătoare cu cât a venit de la un fost deputat verde care acum conduce ministerul francez al mediului.
Ar fi fost mai puțin surprinzător venind din alte state membre ale UE?
Nu vreau să arăt cu degetul pe nimeni și trebuie să evităm raspunsurile rapide. Dar este adevărat că utilizarea pesticidelor în unele țări din Europa de Est nu este la fel de problematică.
În Franța, Germania, Austria, a existat întotdeauna un nivel relativ ridicat de conștientizare a mediului. Există tendința de a presupune că vor acționa întotdeauna în mod consecvent în acest sens. Cel puțin până acum.
Cu toate acestea, nu este adevărat că guvernul francez respectă doar articolul 53 din regulamentul european, care prevede că statele membre ale UE pot beneficia de o derogare de la utilizarea acestor neonicotinoide dacă „un pericol care nu poate fi controlat de alte mijloace rezonabile ”apare?
Asta este adevărat. Pentru ca o țară să obțină o derogare, este obligată să informeze mai întâi Comisia Europeană. Dar dacă această derogare devine permanentă, dacă este readoptată în anii următori, atunci revine la Comisie să-și dea aprobarea. Și o poate refuza.
Comisarul european pentru mediu Virginijus Sinkevičius și comisarul pentru sănătate Stella Kyriakides au indicat că aceste derogări nu vor fi acceptate atât de ușor în viitor.
Ați trimis o scrisoare vicepreședintelui Comisiei, Frans Timmermans, în care l-ați îndemnat „să fie clar și să nu lase Franța să scape cu această derogare” și spuneți că vă temeți de „credibilitatea” Comisiei Europene. Ați putea să detaliați asta?
Într-adevăr, am scris o scrisoare atât comisarilor, cât și o scrisoare către dl Timmermans, în care am precizat că acest lucru nu mai este acceptabil. O interdicție a fost decisă la nivel european și este timpul ca aceasta să fie respectată cu strictețe. Dacă nu, politica noastră de mediu își va pierde credibilitatea.
Așteptăm cu nerăbdare răspunsul Comisiei. Acum Comisia trebuie să acționeze. Pur și simplu nu este posibil ca o interdicție să fie impusă în acest fel și ca țările să o ocolească imediat după aceea. Comisia trebuie să fie mai drastica.
Ca parte a strategiei sale „De la fermă la furculiță” (F2F), UE a anunțat că dorește să reducă utilizarea pesticidelor în UE cu 50%. Dacă angajamentele noastre privind cele mai toxice pesticide nu sunt îndeplinite, cum poate fi luată în serios Comisia în propria sa strategie F2F?
Pe de o parte, ne lăudăm că dorim să reducem utilizarea produselor de protecție a plantelor, pe de altă parte, acceptăm derogările statelor membre. Comisia trebuie să fie mai radicala atunci când elaborează un plan, astfel încât acesta să fie pus în aplicare în statele membre.
În prezent, se pare că Comisia pur și simplu nu are voința politică de a o pune în aplicare și de a o impune statelor membre.
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Articolul original, cu referinte la articolele anterioare:
In its plan to support the sugar beet industry, the country's agriculture ministry announced "a legislative amendment this autumn" to grant "under strictly controlled conditions" a "120-day derogation during the sowing period" for seeds coated with neonicotonoids.
Debates are currently well underway in France over the re-authorisation of neonicotinoids, a controversial class of pesticides, to save its sugar beet industry. The issue is causing quite a stir both at home and across the Rhine. EURACTIV France reports.
The issue of the re-authorisation of neonicotinoid insecticides was tackled by France’s national council for ecological transition (NCET) at its back-to-school meeting on Tuesday (1 September), which also included the recently appointed ecological and solidarity transition minister, Barbara Pompili.
Several prominent French environmental organisations subsequently opted to boycott the meeting over the issue, including France Nature Environnement, the League for the protection of birds, and Friends of the Earth.
Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides which are chemically similar to nicotine and target insects. They have come under fire in recent years for contributing to the decline of bees through disrupting their sense of orientation, memory and mode of reproduction.
On 1 September 2018, five neonicotinoid insecticides were officially banned in the country. Environmental associations and MPs who backed the biodiversity law, which included Pompili, the then secretary of state for biodiversity, hailed as a victory.
However, according to Article 53 of European Regulation 1107/2009, EU member states may obtain derogations on the use of these insecticides “because of a danger which cannot be contained by other reasonable means”.
The European Commission will trigger a never-before-used option against two member states over the abuse of so-called “emergency authorisations” for neonicotinoids, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a letter sent to NGOs dated 19 February and seen by EURACTIV.
Unprecedented crisis in key economic sector
The recently-appointed Agriculture and Food Minister, Julien Denormandie, announced the reintroduction of neonicotinoids at the beginning of August, stressing during a meeting with representatives of the sugar sector that the decision was about “an unprecedented crisis at a time where there is no alternative”.
Embroiled for several months in a crisis, beet producers are calling for help as green aphids, which are vectors the jaundice virus, are infesting beet plantations.
This is resulting in a loss of yield ranging from 30 to 50%.
“For some growers, this year is an economic disaster, with losses of around €1,300 per hectare”, Nicolas Rialland, director of public affairs of the general confederation of beet growers, told EURACTIV France.
The representative of the beet growers’ union also underlined the current deadlock faced by the country’s beet sector.
“The products currently authorised to control aphids have unfortunately not proven to be effective in 2020. Farmers consider themselves without a solution. If some reduce their plots, others risk closing down. It’s a whole sector that is in danger today,” he added.
The sugar sector is a key sector of the French economy as it involves a total of 46,000 jobs, including 25,000 farmers and 21 sugar factories.
To maintain its position as Europe’s leading sugar producer, the French government released its plan to support the sugar beet industry, in which the country’s agriculture ministry announced “a legislative amendment this autumn” to grant “under strictly controlled conditions” a “120-day derogation during the sowing period” for seeds coated with neonicotinoids.
“We hope to find a solution, which would prevent us from using these insecticides, within three to five years. But in the meantime, we simply have no other choice,” said Rialland, noting that these derogations will be granted until 1 July 2023 and thus only be temporary.
However, the news of the derogation has faced fierce backlash from environmental organisations.
“This ban placed our country as a precursor in the protection of pollinators,” the country’s agriculture ministry boasted in a statement at the time.
In an interview for Libération, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of the league for the protection of birds, denounced the news that this position would be revised only two years later as “surrealist back-pedalling”, adding to a “yielding of aggressions against nature and regressions”.
Environmental NGOs have questioned the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) scientific capacity to grant EU member states emergency authorisations for neonicotinoids, whose usage was recently banned.
Germany committed to combating “bee-killing” insecticides
This comeback of neonicotinoids is also a bone of contention across the Rhine.
In its report on the state of neonicotinoid bans in Europe, France’s national union of beekeeping points out that as early as 2009, Germany “adopted restrictive measures against the treatment of straw cereal seeds” with certain types of neonicotinoids.
Following the import of seeds treated with neonicotinoid substances from abroad, Germany also adopted a text in 2015 formally prohibiting the “placing on the market, imports and sowing” of the insecticide.
Faced with the French decision to reintroduce neonicotinoids, Martin Häusling, the Greens’ spokesman for agricultural policy in the European Parliament and a member of the environment committee (ENVI), did not mince his words.
In a letter to Commission Vice-President Franz Timmermanns, the Green MEP called on the Commission to halt France’s ambitions.
“Neonicotinoids are extremely harmful, their use is not banned without reason. France must not be allowed to get away with its request to use them again by means of an ’emergency authorisation’,” he wrote.
Still, Häusling demands greater firmness from the Commission: “The scandalous practice by some member states of using neonicotinoids despite the EU ban through so-called emergency authorisations must stop immediately,” he wrote.
The draft law on the derogation for neonicotinoids will be presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday (3 September).
[Edited by Natasha Foote]
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Pollinators like bees are integral to food production and supply chains. [Shutterstock]
The European Commission will trigger a never-before-used option against two member states over the abuse of so-called “emergency authorisations” for neonicotinoids, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said in a letter sent to NGOs, dated 19 February and seen by EURACTIV.
Four member states received a writing from Commissioner Andriukaitis asking for their commitment not to grant again the so-called “emergency authorisations” for the use of the three restricted active substances used in pesticides (Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin, and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam).
“Two have responded positively making such a commitment. For the others, the Commission intends to prepare draft Decisions in accordance with Article 53(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 that, if adopted, would prevent them from repeating the granting of these particular non-justified emergency authorisations,” the letter reads, without naming who the member states are.
EURACTIV understands it is the first time that the Commission is using this option. Besides civil society, the European Parliament had also called on the Commission to “fully use its control rights under Article 53(2) and (3)”.
EU pesticides law – specifically Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 – allows EU countries to authorise the use of non-approved chemicals “in special circumstances”, when there is a “danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means”.
EU pesticides law gives the Commission a number of options to ensure these derogations are not abused. It can draw on EFSA to assess the emergency authorisations. It can then take measures so that countries withdraw or amend their derogations (Article 53(2) and (3) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009).
Commissioner Andriukaitis was responding to a letter sent on 22 January by a collective of European environmental NGOs who wanted to stress that bees are still exposed to dangerous pesticides despite the EU ban of the three neonicotinoids.
When the EU General Court upheld the ban on the three insecticides in May last year, Bayer said it would appeal the ruling as the verdict could have far-reaching consequences for the certainty and predictability of active substance approvals in the EU”.
Disputed EFSA Bee Guidance Document
Together with restraining the use of derogation by member states on neonicotinoids, the European Commission is currently updating the guidance document on bee safety standards for pesticides.
NGOs expressed in their letter concerns that farmers can simply replace the banned neonicotinoids with other pesticides that are equally harmful to bees because other pesticides are not tested to the same high standards as the three banned neonicotinoids.
Commissioner Andriukaitis replied that the dossiers for renewal or approval of active substances do contain data on chronic toxicity to bees, enabling assessment of the potential long’term risks to bees.
“Until today, the EU has not consistently applied the most up-to-date scientific criteria for assessing pesticides’ impacts on bees, adopted by EFSA as early as 2013.3 These testing standards have only been fully used in the evaluation of the three neonicotinoids that were subsequently banned, and partially in the assessment of very few other pesticides,” the NGOs said in their letter.
Commissioner Andriukaitis said that for more than five years, a clear majority of member states have refused to accept the Guidance Document by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as they do not wish to implement it before it is reviewed.
Unless it is endorsed by the member states, the Commission cannot rely on this guidance document for decisions on applications for renewal of approval.
“In order to overcome this stalemate in the Standing Committee, I have proposed to implement now the parts where there is agreement among member states. Even though not as ambitious as I would like it to be, this will still be a step forward,” Andriukaitis said in his letter.
EURACTIV understands that the Commission has a majority for its latest proposals but will only schedule a vote after the next meeting in March since it still needs to complete internal and external consultations.
For NGOs, the European Commission does not show the level of ambition required to protect insects in general and bees in particular.
“Our pollinators are in crisis and pesticides are certainly one of the prime culprits. Last year, the EU banned three bee-killing pesticides. That was a first step forward, but now the Commission seems ready to take two steps back by paving the way for other chemicals that are just as dangerous to bees. We cannot save the bees if the EU allows one poisonous pesticide to replace another,” Franziska Achterberg, the food policy director at Greenpeace EU, told EURACTIV.
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By Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com Jul 19, 2018 (updated: Aug 9, 2018) https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/environmentalists-clash-with-efsa-over-neonicotinoids-ban-exceptions/
The NGOs sent letters to the executive and EFSA, criticizing the EFSA reports on emergency authorisations of “poor quality”. [Shutterstock]
Environmental NGOs have questioned the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) scientific capacity to grant EU member states emergency authorisations for neonicotinoids, whose usage was recently banned.
They say that some member states are using the “emergency” claim to bypass the ban, while EFSA contends that it is “misleading” to mix emergency authorisations with the decision for a complete ban.
Experts from the member states and the European Commission will discuss on 19 July at the Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed (PAFF), the latest EFSA reports on the emergency authorisations granted for neonicotinoids in 2017.
Following an EFSA report, which found that most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides (Bayer’s clothianidin and imidacloprid and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam) represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees, the Commission decided on 27 April to impose a complete ban.
But environmental NGOs and beekeepers fear that 13 member states are trying to break the ban, by taking advantage of the “loophole” to grant exceptions to the neonicotinoids restrictions in specific cases of emergency.
“The Juncker Commission wants to be seen as ‘friends of the bees’. But bans on bee-killing pesticides aren’t much use if national governments are allowed to hand out exceptions willy-nilly,” said Greenpeace EU food policy adviser Franziska Achterberg.
Achterberg added that emergency authorisations should only be granted in exceptional circumstances, and “not to allow farmers to simply continue the use of dangerous chemicals that the EU has banned for good reasons”.
The NGOs sent letters to the EU executive and EFSA, criticizing the EFSA reports on emergency authorisations as being of “poor quality”.
The organisations questioned EFSA’s scientific basis in its reports, saying that it had disregarded all non-chemical methods of pest control, independently of their (claimed) feasibility, effectiveness and rate of application.
They also blame EFSA for disregarding all chemical methods other than neonicotinoids, adding that the use of other insecticides, such as pyrethroids, was not taken into consideration.
“The only criteria that EFSA retained to judge whether a banned neonicotinoid needed to be used, was the availability of another neonicotinoid,” the NGOs noted.
The NGOs now want the European Commission to ask EFSA to reconsider its reports and involve external experts in order to “give due consideration to non-chemical methods of pest control”.
“We consider therefore that EFSA does not have the agricultural expertise and experience to assess the complete set of alternative pest-control methods available to farmers, and to decide which ones are feasible in different countries,” they emphasised.
The environmentalists believe that DG SANTE should be involved in the process and withdraw the relevant emergency authorisations if they are insufficient.
The European Commission decided on Friday (27 April) to impose a complete ban on neonicotinoids, after managing to achieve the necessary qualified majority among EU member states.
Contacted by EURACTIV.com, an EFSA spokesperson said it was “strange” that for some critics EFSA’s science on pesticides is good one day and poor the next.
“All EFSA scientific assessments are based on a thorough evaluation of the available data using transparent scientific methodologies. In this case, EFSA was mandated to use this methodology, which was published in April 2017 far in advance of the results which are now being criticised,” the EFSA official said.
“EFSA has confirmed that neonicotinoids pose risks to bees in its advice published in February 2018. Any attempt to link that advice with the recently published emergency derogations reports is misleading because the scope of the scientific assessments is different,” the spokesperson added.
In April, the industry strongly criticised EFSA’s decision on neonicotinoids, claiming that the decision was not the “right outcome for European farmers or for the environment”. It also questioned EFSA’s scientific conclusions, claiming that neonicotinoids pose a minimum threat to bee health.
“Depending on the outcome, we are either seen as the heroes of science or blamed as incompetent. This kind of cherry-picking does not sound very convincing to me,” EFSA’s executive director Bernhard Url told EURACTIV in an interview.
The European Commission has learned its lesson from the glyphosate controversy and is coming forward with “bold proposals” on transparency, says Bernhard Url. The raw data of all industry-funded studies related to pesticides will be made publicly available under Commission plans, he told EURACTIV in an interview.
The Commission’ stance
The Commission said it has taken note of EFSA’s report, which will be discussed at the PAFF committee.
“The Commission is at the same time reflecting on the follow-up to be given to this report which it had requested to EFSA,” a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.
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