Northwest Horticultural Council
European Union (EU) Bans the Use of Three Neonicotinoids on Outdoor Crops
September 4, 2019
Current Situation: On April 27, 2018, a majority of the Member EU States approved draft regulations to ban the use of the neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam on all crops except for crops grown in permanent greenhouses. The European Commission made this decision in response to the February 2018 updated risk assessments completed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that identified potential risks to bees from exposure to these chemicals. The commission adopted these regulations on May 30, 2018.
There are no immediate implications for the existing EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) and import tolerances for these chemicals. Since the regulations will still allow for use on crops grown in permanent greenhouses, and there are no related human health concerns, it is anticipated that the MRLs will remain. At some point, it is possible the commission may propose to delete the existing MRLs following the revocation of the product registrations. However, if the commission decides to delete existing MRLs, it should be possible for countries outside the EU to apply for import tolerances. The EU would need to notify any proposal to delete MRLs to the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Summary table: Current EU MRLs for Neonicotinoids
|Existing EU MRL (mg/kg)|
* No US EPA tolerance.
Background: In 2013, the EU implemented a partial ban for use of the three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam) on bee-attractive crops (including maize, oilseed rape, and sunflower) with the exception of uses in greenhouses, of treatment of some crops after flowering and of winter cereals. The 2013 measure was based on conclusions in the 2012 risk assessments conducted by EFSA that identified potential risks to bees. Additionally, the commission required that chemical registrants of the three neonicotinoids conduct additional studies to further assess the potential risks to bees. EFSA completed their review of these additional data in February of 2018. The commission is now taking the action to ban the use of the three neonicotinoids on all outdoor crops based on the conclusions of the 2018 EFSA review.
Contact: If you have any questions, please contact David Epstein, vice president for scientific affairs, Northwest Horticultural Council at 509-453-3193.