UK crop protection trade body the Agricultural Industries Confederation has supported an appeal in the European General Court, which challenged the verdict on the European Commission’s decision to withdraw three neonicotinoid insecticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – in 2013.

The AIC argued that the Commission did not follow the legal procedure for withdrawal of active substances and that the impact of the withdrawals was not assessed, nor a cost/benefit analysis undertaken. With no certainty regarding whether other active substances could be withdrawn in the same way in the future, the AIC asserted that this left agronomists, seed businesses, farmers and growers unable to plan for their business needs effectively.

The Commission’s decision to withdraw the three insecticides was challenged by Bayer and Syngenta in 2017, on the basis that there was insufficient evidence of any serious risk to bee health posed by the actives, the use of unadopted risk assessment guidance in the decision-making process, and taking disproportionate action in light of the perceived risk identified.

AIC acted as an intervenor in the case, as the withdrawal of the three insecticides was calculated to be very problematic for UK farmers and growers and, therefore, AIC members. Nevertheless, the EU Court ruled in favour of the Commission and confirmed that the Ruling on the three actives was valid.

Bayer subsequently launched an appeal against the verdict. As an intervenor in the original case, AIC supported the Bayer appeal due to the negative impacts on oilseed rape crops due to the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments. A decision on the hearing is expected in September.

“AIC Members took the decision to intervene and support the challenge to this verdict,” said AIC head of Agronomy and Crop Protection, Hazel Doonan. “The implications of this decision could have far-reaching effects on the regulation of plant protection products (PPPs) more generally within the EU and the UK following the UK’s exit from the EU.”