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Syngenta Dismisses EU Call for Cruiser Insecticide Precautions

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Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Syngenta AG said there aren’t grounds for restricting the use of its Cruiser insecticide after European Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg called for laws which may control the product and sprays from Bayer AG.

The Swiss maker of crop chemicals said any constraint on Cruiser, a neonicotinoid pesticide which protects crops from corn to cotton against insects such as beetles and centipedes, would cause significant loss to farmers and the economy, without helping bees.

“We believe that a large number of European Member States agree and will make clear their positions in the coming weeks,” Syngenta spokesman Paul Barrett said in an e-mailed statement. Bee populations “are primarily under threat from disease and poor nutrition,” he said, challenging the findings of a European Food Safety Authority report, which said Cruiser threatens bee health.

Borg will propose EU-wide legislative measures Jan. 31 on neonicotinoids, which kill bugs by attacking the central nervous system, he told EU ministers in a meeting yesterday. He said the measures would be “inspired by the precautionary principle,” although a total ban would not be justified.

Borg’s comments are a blow to Basel-based Syngenta which won sales exceeding $1 billion for Cruiser in 2011, or 7.5 percent of revenue. The crop chemicals-maker is due to report full-year results on Feb. 6.

“The time is now ripe to act to ensure an equally high level of protection of bees across the EU,” Borg said. His comments come after EFSA said Jan. 16 neonicotinoids pose a “high acute risk” to bees through the nectar and pollen of some treated crops and through drifting dust.

Cruiser was released in 1997. The main ingredient is Thiamethoxam.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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