Competence areas

Products

Country/Region

EU

Crops

Oilseed

Date

November 2015

Interview with Martin Gruss and Dr. Klaus Kunz

“We emphasize on additional field data”

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Three questions to Martin Gruss, Head of SeedGrowth, and Dr. Klaus Kunz, Global Regulatory Manager Insecticides, about the needs of neonicotinoids and how Bayer CropScience provides new data for the European Commission to reconsider the usage restrictions.
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Martin Gruss

Two years ago the EU restricted the use of three neonicotinoids. How did this EU decision affect your business and the launch of new products?

Gruss: “We are still convinced that neonicotinoids are safe for bees when used responsibly, properly and according to the label instructions. Like many people around the world, we are very concerned about bee health. But the restrictions have not led to any visible improvement to bee health. It is true that the EU decision has affected our business, but more importantly, farmers throughout Europe are feeling the impact of the restrictions: losses in both crop yields and quality which lead to loss of income. Today, as a result of the restrictions, less efficient solutions to effectively control many devastating pests are available in the market. This is not only a challenge for our customers, but also for an innovation-driven company like Bayer. In some crops, we are able to offer alternatives, but they don’t offer the same protection as the restricted seed treatments. Our experts in R&D are working hard to find new solutions but this will take years with uncertain outcomes in the regulatory approval process, due to the still pending requirements for registrations of seed treatment products in the EU.”

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Dr. Klaus Kunz

Which EU crops and EU countries are hit most?

Gruss: “We have received a lot of feedback from many farmers, seed breeders, seed treaters, retailers, distributors and crop advisors across Europe. One example is the impact of the restrictions on oilseed rape production where farmers have been highly exposed to flea beetles and turnip root flies, for instance. Currently, there is no seed treatment product available to control flea beetles in oilseed rape. They have no alternative but to spray products that are often older, less beneficial and less effective. At the same time, resistance problems are occurring due to the restricted spectrum of products available now.”

Kunz: “A recent study by the Newcastle University estimates that growers in the UK had a loss of 22 million pounds sterling due to the missing option of neonicotinoid treated seed, suffering yield losses or complete loss of planted acres and additional cost for foliar applications. The situation in Germany is no better: the oilseed rape acreage is expected to decline by ten percent in 2015 – which certainly won’t be helpful for the bees, for whom oilseed rape is very important forage in the spring.”

The European Commission and EFSA are currently re-evaluating the effects of these substances. Which type of data did Bayer forward?

Kunz: “We have submitted a substantial package of data, which goes beyond the regulatory requirements currently in place. We are working on providing new data and hope that the European Commission will reconsider the usage restrictions. With respect to the large amount of studies already provided, our current emphasis is on additional field data.”

Field study of Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience conducted a large field study at landscape level in Northern Germany to analyze potential impacts of clothianidin-treated oilseed rape on bee pollinators under realistic use conditions. Cooperation partners where e.g. the German Oberursel Bee Research Institute of Frankfurt University.

Key facts of the trial:

  • 65 square kilometers of control and treatments sites each
  • 17-18 oilseed rape fields covered in each site
  • Total: around 600-800 hectares

Goal of the study:
Assessing the exposure situation for pollinators during the 2014 flowering season and the possible effects on bee pollinator species with different life cycles.

Output:
The detailed analysis of pollen and nectar samples demonstrated that bees foraging in clothianidin-treated oilseed rape fields were exposed to the expected low levels of clothianidin. These low exposure levels were shown to have no adverse effect in field conditions on honey bee colony development, bumble bee populations or the reproduction of solitary bees.

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