The General Court of the European Union given reason for the NGO Pollinis which has been asking since 2018 for the disclosure of documents that could explain the reasons for the blocking of ambitious tests on the effects of pesticides, neonicotinoids in particular, on honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees and larvae. “With this fundamental judgment, the General Court of the European Union puts an end to the unacceptable opacity which taints part of the European decision-making process“, estimates the NGO, whose case was defended by lawyers Théophile Bégel and Corinne Lepage, former Minister of the Environment.
To understand, we have to go back to 2013. The European Commission, alarmed by the massive deaths of bees, asks the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) to review the protocols of the tests which make it possible to evaluate the toxicity of pesticides. on pollinators in the context of a marketing authorisation. Following the advice of environmentalists and scientists, it is no longer enough to assess the acute toxicity of phytosanitary products, but also their chronic toxicity. It is also a question of extending the tests to other pollinators – solitary bees, bumblebees – as well as to the larvae. And take into account the exhibition road” of bees, i.e. all the ways by which they can be exposed in a cumulative way: water and soil for example, and no longer only by pollen and nectar. Stronger, an ambitious objective of protection underlies this revision, which wants to set the acceptable mortality rate for honey bees at only 7% (while no figure was set before).
Seven years of reflection… or blockage?
In 2014, EFSA produced a guide document to this end which must be approved by the SCoPAFF (Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, i.e. the “Standing Committee for Plants, Animals, Foodstuffs and Animal Feed”), the technical committee responsible for pesticides and chaired by the Commission, on which sit representatives of each Member State. And it’s the blockage, coupled with the black hole…” For seven years, the adoption of these essential protocols to prevent the commercialization of substances toxic to pollinators has been postponed more than thirty times, comments Nicolas Laarman, General Delegate of Pollinis, and this, without European citizens having access to any information on its reasons, which only serve the interests of the agrochemical industry” according to him. In the name of citizens’ right of access to information, Pollinis requests the disclosure of the debates on multiple occasions between 2018 and 2020, requests that the European Commission systematically rejects, arguing the need to “protect the decision-making process”. On June 15, 2020, Pollinis therefore filed ultimately two appeals against the Commission before the General Court of the European Union, to find out what lies behind the case. Judgment has come to vindicate them.