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Syngenta to Defend Insecticide as Europe Review Shows Bee Risk

Syngenta AG, the world’s largest agrochemical company, will defend the use of its Cruiser insecticide after a review by the European Food Safety Authority concluded the product’s active ingredient is a risk to bees.

“We will deploy all means at our disposal to defend the use of this product,” Chief Operating Officer John Atkin said in an e-mailed statement, after the EFSA published a report on its website today.

The EFSA said it has identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides sold by Syngenta and Bayer AG. Bayer Cropscience said in a statement earlier today that it’s convinced neonicotinoids can be used safely. The EFSA’s finding is a blow to Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta as it deals with increasingly costly regulatory compliance to get its crop sprays approved in Europe.

“Without neonicotinoids, up to 17 billion euros ($22.6 billion) of economic value could be lost across Europe over the next five years,” Atkins said. “This threatens 50,000 jobs directly and could impact the income of up to one million people working in agriculture.”

Cruiser was released in 1997, and is used to protect crops from corn to cotton against insects such as beetles and centipedes. Thiamethoxam, the active ingredient in Cruiser, is a “blockbuster product” with sales that exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 2011, according to Syngenta.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides which kill insects by attacking the central nervous system. Recent studies have suggested that exposure to neonicotinoids at sub-lethal doses can harm bee health and bee colonies, the EFSA said.

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