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EU Court Puts End to Emergency Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides

The EU’s highest court ruled on Thursday (19 January) that EU countries should no longer be allowed temporary exemptions for banned, bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, putting half of all such derogations to an end. 

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed that member states will no longer be allowed to grant derogations temporarily permitting the use of seeds treated with ‘expressly banned’ plant protection products by EU law.

The ruling came in the wake of a request for annulment before the Belgian Administrative Court on the derogation given by Belgium for the use of these bee-toxic insecticides on sugar beets. The request was brought by the campaigner groups Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe and Nature & Progrès Belgium together with a Belgian beekeeper.

The plant protection products in question – imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam – belong to a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine and target insects.