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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bayer Pesticides Cause Mass Death of Bees

Pesticides cause mass death of bees

Germany: Charge against Bayer's Board of Management

Coalition Against Bayer Dangers (August 25 2008)

The German Coalition Against Bayer Dangers today brought a charge against Werner Wenning, chairman of the Bayer Board of Management, with the Public Prosecutor in Freiburg (south-western Germany). The group accuses Bayer of marketing dangerous pesticides and thereby accepting the mass death of bees all over the world. The Coalition introduced the charge in cooperation with German beekeepers who lost thousands of hives after poisoning by the pesticide clothianidin in May this year.

Since 1991 Bayer has been producing the insecticide Imidacloprid, which is one of the best selling insecticides in the world, often used as seed-dressing for maize, sunflower, and rape. Bayer exports Imidacloprid to more than 120 countries and the substance is Bayer's best-selling pesticide. Since patent protection for Imidacloprid expired in most countries, Bayer in 2003 brought a similarly functionning successor product, Clothianidin, onto the market. Both substances are systemic chemicals that work their way from the seed through the plant. The substances also get into the pollen and the nectar and can damage beneficial insects such as bees.

The beginning of the marketing of Imidacloprid and Clothianidin coincided with the occurrence of large scale bee deaths in many European and American countries. Up to seventy per cent of all hives have been affected. In France alone approximately ninety billion bees died within ten years, reducing honey production by up to sixty per cent.

Harro Schultze, attorney of the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers said: "The Public Prosecutor needs to clarify which efforts BAYER undertook to prevent a ban of Imidacloprid and Clothianidin after sales of both substances were stopped in France. We're suspecting that Bayer submitted flawed studies to play down the risks of pesticide residues in treated plants". In France Imidacloprid has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers since 1999 and in 2003 was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment. The Comité Scientifique et Technique, convened by the French government, declared that the treatment of seeds with Imidacloprid leads to significant risks for bees. Bayer's application for Clothianidin was also rejected by French authorities.

"Bayer's Board of Management has to be called to account since the risks of neonicotinoids such as Imidacloprid and Clothianidin have now been known for more than ten years. With an annual turnover of nearly 800 million Euro neonicotinoids are among Bayer's most important products. This is the reason why Bayer, despite serious environmental damage, is fighting against any application prohibitions", says Philipp Mimkes, speaker of the Coalition Against Bayer-dangers. The Coalition demands that Bayer withdraw all neonicotinoids from the market worldwide.

The accusation of flawed studies is confirmed by the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) which judged on Bayer's Clothianidin application: "All of the field/semi-field studies, however, were found to be deficient in design and conduct of the studies and were, therefore, considered as supplemental information only. Clothianidin may pose a risk to honey bees and other pollinators, if exposure occurs via pollen and nectar of crop plants grown from treated seeds." PRMA adds: "It should also be noted that Clothianidin is very persistent in soil, with high carry-over of residues to the next growing season. Clothianidin is also mobile in soil."

In May 2008 German authorities blamed clothianidin for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) suspended the registration for eight pesticide seed treatment products, including Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, on maize and rape.

The case is filed by the Public Prosecutor in Freiburg (Tel: +49-(0)761 2050) under the file number 520 UJs 1649/08

More Information:

The Guardian: Germany bans chemicals linked to bee devastation

Sierra Club urges EPA to suspend nicotinyl insecticides:

Press Release of the Research Centre for Cultivated Plants

Bee-keepers and environmental groups demand prohibition of pesticide "Gaucho" · French Institutes Finds Imidaproclid Turning Up in Wide Range of Crops · 2003 report from the "Comité Scientifique et Technique de l'Etude Multifactorielle des Troubles des Abeilles"

Coalition Against Bayer Dangers,

_____ _____ _____ _____

Pesticides: Germany bans chemicals linked to honeybee devastation

by Alison Benjamin (May 23 2008)

Germany has banned a family of pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has suspended the registration for eight pesticide seed treatment products used in rapeseed oil and sweetcorn.

The move follows reports from German beekeepers in the Baden-Württemberg region that two thirds of their bees died earlier this month following the application of a pesticide called clothianidin.

"It's a real bee emergency", said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association. "fifty to sixty per cent of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives".

Tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin. The chemical, produced by Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of the German chemical giant Bayer, is sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho. It was applied to the seeds of sweetcorn planted along the Rhine this spring. The seeds are treated in advance of being planted or are sprayed while in the field.

The company says an application error by the seed company which failed to use the glue-like substance that sticks the pesticide to the seed, led to the chemical getting into the air.

Bayer spokesman Dr Julian Little told the BBC's Farming Today that misapplication is highly unusual. "It is an extremely rare event and has not been seen anywhere else in Europe", he said.

Clothianidin, like the other neonicotinoid pesticides that have been temporarily suspended in Germany, is a systemic chemical that works its way through a plant and attacks the nervous system of any insect it comes into contact with. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency it is "highly toxic" to honeybees.

This is not the first time that Bayer, one of the world's leading pesticide manufacturers with sales of 5.8 billion Euros (GBP 4.6bn) in 2007, has been blamed for killing honeybees.

In the United States, a group of beekeepers from North Dakota is taking the company to court after losing thousands of honeybee colonies in 1995, during a period when oilseed rape in the area was treated with imidacloprid. A third of honeybees were killed by what has since been dubbed colony collapse disorder.

Bayer's best selling pesticide, imidacloprid, sold under the name Gaucho in France, has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers in that country since 1999, after a third of French honeybees died following its widespread use. Five years later it was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment in France. A few months ago, the company's application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.

Bayer has always maintained that imidacloprid is safe for bees if correctly applied. "Extensive internal and international scientific studies have confirmed that Gaucho does not present a hazard to bees", said Utz Klages, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience.

Last year, Germany's Green MEP, Hiltrud Breyer, tabled an emergency motion calling for this family of pesticides to be banned across Europe while their role in killing honeybees were thoroughly investigated. Her action follows calls for a ban from beekeeping associations and environmental organisations across Europe.

Philipp Mimkes, spokesman for the German-based Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, said: "We have been pointing out the risks of neonicotinoids for almost ten years now. This proves without a doubt that the chemicals can come into contact with bees and kill them. These pesticides shouldn't be on the market." (c) Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Bill Totten


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