The Insecticide, Cruiser OSR, Banned in France

Swiss Company Syngenta Manufactures the Banned Insecticide.  Photo: Flickr.com/agriflanders

Swiss Company Syngenta Manufactures the Banned Insecticide.
Photo: Flickr.com/agriflanders

The government announced last week a ban on the Cruiser OSR due to the harmful impact of pesticides on bees. Consciously choosing to put environmental interests first, the government did not listen to the manufacturer’s argument that the ban will cost an estimated cost of 72 million euros for the seed industry.

At the beginning of June, the Minister of Agriculture announced that he was in favor of this measure after ANSES, a French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, published a warning about thiamethoxam’s harmful effect on bees.

This active component of the Cruiser belongs to the neonicotinoids class of insecticides, known for their toxicity. The product is widely used in the agricultural field to fight insect feeding, especially on colza seed coats. But it creates negative externalities by causing the bees to loose their sense of direction.

A French study – directed by the National Institute of Agricultural research – showed that 10 to 31 % of the intoxicated individuals were unable to find the way back to the hive, making their death significantly more likely. Away from the hive, bees die three times more often than usual.

The Swiss firm, Syngenta, that manufactures the Cruiser had 15 days to produce its adversarial conclusions. It failed to convince the Ministry of Agriculture who confirmed the ban on the product, considering the public interest at stake.

Colony Collapse Disorder, the phenomenon in which beehives disappear, remains unexplained, although multiple possibilities have been investigated. Many are worried about the potential economic and ecological impact of bees’ extinction.

This decision could be catastrophic for French farmers, according to Syngenta, as the Cruiser is used across 650 000 hectares in France – and 3 million in Europe. The group argued that there is no substitute for it, a problem that could undermine French competitiveness and cost 72 million to the seed industry.

Syngenta said it will contest the decision in front of the administrative courts.

However, other forms of the product are still available on the market, in particular the Cruiser 350 used on corn. Beekeepers hope that this insecticide will be banned shortly. Gerard Bapt, a Parti Socialist deputy, said it was “all the neonicotinoid pesticides which should be considered,” not only the Cruiser OSR. The legal battle between the environment and commercial farming has only just begun.

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