The evaluation and the management of the risks of pesticides is a shared responsibility of the EU and the member states.

The EU establishes the legal framework and formulates detailed scientific and technical guidelines for the evaluation of active substances and crop protection products. Also the evaluation and approval of active substances is done by the EU, in close collaboration with the member states.

The member states for their part, guarantee the evaluation and approval of crop protection products which contain those approved active substances.

During recent years, at both European and national level, there is an increased watchfulness concerning the risks which pesticides can imply for bees, and several measures have been taken.

Legislative measures

The regulation (EC) number 1107/2009, which is applied since the middle of 2011, introduces new criteria for the approval of active substances. An active substance cannot be approved, until the use thereof only produces a negligible exposure for the bees, or if they have no unacceptable acute or chronic consequences for the survival and development of a bee colony, taking into account the effect on the larvae and on the conduct of the bees.

In the regulations (EU) numbers 283/2013 and 284/2013 new data requirements for the evaluation of active substances and crop protection products have been determined. The data requirements with regard to bees are accentuated, particularly in the area of the chronic and sub-lethal effects. These new requirements are progressively applied from the 1st of January 2014.

Scientific guidelines

By order of the European Commission, the European Authority for Food Safety (EFSA) has drawn up a ‘Guidance on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees’.

This directive was published at the beginning of July 2013 and is based on the newest scientific insights concerning the effects of pesticides on bees and concerning their exposure to these products. It deals for example with the influence of very low, non-lethal doses on the behaviour of bees, such as the capacity to retrace their beehive, but also on the exposure through guttation; this is the intake by bees of plant droplets, which may have been contaminated with pesticides.

Evaluation and approval of active substances

In 2012, European Commission has commissioned the European Authority for Food Security to re-evaluate three active substances of the family of neonicotinoids (clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid), and to re-evaluate the substance fipronil with a view to the risks for the bees.

This evaluation was limited to the crop protection products in the form of granulates and the products meant for seed treatment. The conclusions of these evaluations were drawn at the end of 2012 for the three neonicotinoids, and in March 2013 for fipronil.

For the four substances referred to in the above, the Commission has decided to carry out a far reaching restriction of the possible applications, so as to exclude any possible exposure of bees to these substances. In 2010, with the approval of these substances, the Commission had already determined in its decisions that the actual exposure of bees to these substances via monitoring programs must be verified.