I write with regard to the report released by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that said that neonicotinoids pose some “risks” to bees (“Seed treatment poses a risk to Europe's bee population”, 17-23 January). It is, firstly, important to note that “risks” are often misinterpreted as conclusive evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees. EFSA is not saying that neonicotinoids harm bees.
Secondly, EFSA noted that there is a high level of uncertainty about its evaluation. It stated this because, as it has confirmed, the risk-assessment process for bees is still under development. It also acknowledges that there are data gaps in its report.
These gaps are mainly because EFSA did not consider several studies on the grounds that that they did not gather data in the manner required under EFSA's still unfinalised risk-assessment process. These were, however, studies that used methodologies that have been internationally validated (by, for instance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
In addition, the EFSA reports did not assess the existing safe-use requirements for neonicotinoids. The crop-protection industry is confident that its products are safe for humans and the environment.
Nor did the EFSA reports consider the whole body of independent field-monitoring data made available by member states. The industry believes that all available data should be used in the evaluation of the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.
As an industry, we share the public's concern about the health of bees: pollinators – bees, in this instance – are of great important for EU agriculture. Likewise, neonicotinoids are of great importance.
To ensure that both bees and agriculture thrive, the crop-protection industry is committed to helping to close data-gaps and to minimising the risk of pesticides through innovation, stewardship and increased co-operation with a range of stakeholders.