In the first key ruling on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in Europe, a majority of Member States refused to support a proposed restriction on the chemical’s use.

On Friday, 13 Member States voted in favor of an EU-wide ban. However, with 9 countries opposing the ban and 5 countries abstaining, the resulting non-majority votes means the proposed ban would not take place. The European Commission will now determine if it will appeal the decision or amend its proposal.

A key use for neonicotinoids is in seed treatments, and is sold by Syngenta under the Cruiser trade name.

Syngenta, as well as other companies who produce the pesticide, have disputed the European Commission call for a pesticide ban, arguing that the preliminary review by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) made fundamental mistakes, which led to a serious over-estimation of the amount of pesticide bees are exposed to under field conditions. It also ignored key studies and independent monitoring by governments which prove the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides.

“We are pleased that EU Member States did not support the European Commission’s shamefully political proposal. Restricting the use of this vital crop protection technology will do nothing to help improve bee health,” says John Atkin, chief operating officer for Syngenta.

Syngenta urged the European Commission to broaden efforts to tackle the real causes of the decline in bee health rather than continuing to focus on neonicotinoid pesticides, which deliver significant socio-economic and environmental benefits.

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