Member States backed the Commission's proposal to lower the maximum residue limits (MRLs) of two neonicotinoid pesticides known to have harmful effects on bees. European Food Safety Agency assessments show that clothianidin and thiamethoxam pose a high risk to pollinators. For this reason, their outdoor use had already been banned in the EU in 2018. For food imports and animal feed, the new rules will lower the existing maximum residue limits for these substances to the lowest level that can be measured with the latest technologies. The rules are expected to be adopted by early next year.
Food business operators and third countries will have sufficient time to adapt to the new rules. The new MRLs will apply to food produced in the EU - for which the threshold is already very low - and to food imported from third countries.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: "This is the first time that we have lowered MRLs to take into account the impact of active substances on the environment that may have global consequences.".
This is an important step for our work under the "farm to fork strategy". Given their negative impact on pollinators around the world, including bees, the use of these two neonicotinoids has already been discontinued in the EU. Today, we are taking a further step, contributing to the transition towards sustainable food systems, also on the global stage. Once the rules approved today are in place, imported products will no longer be able to contain residues of these two neonicotinoids.
The regulation will put into practice the Commission's objectives, announced in the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, and will take into account environmental aspects when assessing applications for import tolerances for pesticides that are no longer authorised in the EU, while respecting the standards and obligations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). After consultation with WTO Members, the Commission proposal was submitted to the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, where it received the support of a qualified majority of Member States. The regulation will be submitted to the Council and the Parliament, which have two months to react. If the two institutions do not object, the regulation will be adopted in early 2023.
You can find more information on neonicotinoids in the website.
- Publication date
- 27 September 2022
- Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety
- Directorate Health and Safety