The European Food Safety Authority has begun a review that could pave the way for rolling back a pioneering EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides, that are thought to have ravaged European bee populations. In a letter to the European commission last month, which the Guardian has seen, the EU scientists said that they would finish their risk evaluation by the end of January 2017.
A formal announcement that the review is underway is due imminently but a commission spokesman told the Guardian that it would not necessarily lead to any changes to the law. “The restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids remain in place while this review is carried out,” he said. “Depending on the outcome of this evaluation, the commission will propose, only if justified, to further modify the conditions of approval of the three neonicotinoids.” The expert panel could choose to tighten, as well as soften, the current ban on the use of thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid, which was introduced following an Efsa ruling in 2012 that they posed an “unacceptable” danger to bees.