New study shows neonicotinoid ban caused severe economic and environmental damage to EU oilseed rape sector

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According to research consultancy HFFA Research, the European Commission decision of 2013 to largely restrict the use of neonicotinoids resulted in severe economic losses for the European oilseed sector and also had clear negative environmental impact.

The new study identifies and specifies major economic consequences of banning neonicotinoids in the EU by using the case study of oilseed rape production. The three main findings are:

a negative yield impact of 4% resulting in 912,000 tons of missing harvest;
an average of 6.3% of harvest quality losses;
an average of 0.73 additional foliar applications per hectare of cultivated oilseed rape.

These three impacts can be translated into an overall economic cost to the European oilseed rape industry amounting to almost € 900 million per year.

But the ban also has significant environmental impacts, both within the EU and on a global scale:

globally shifting oilseed rape production outside the EU triggered a conversion of more than 500.000 ha of grass land and natural habitats to arable land equalling the loss of over 300.000 ha of biodiversity-rich rainforest;
in the EU, additional foliar insecticide applications added Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of estimated 0.03 million tons CO2 equivalents and 1.4 million m3 of additional water use annually.

‘’It is important for policy makers to understand all the consequences of the ban. While restricting neonicotinoid use may have looked the best possible option at first sight, in fact correct risk management measures would have provided farmers with the more economical and even more environmentally friendly solution. The European Seed Association stands for the professional use of plant protection products for seed treatment. ESA developed ESTA, the European Seed Treatment Assurance scheme, to certify professional, high quality seed treatment applications and guarantee defined quality. Today, ESTA reaches a coverage of almost 100% in the major oilseed rape production countries,’’ says Garlich von Essen, Secretary General of ESA.

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