Syngenta Sees $75 Million Risk From Bee-Related EU Chemical Bans

Syngenta AG, the world’s largest maker of crop chemicals, said its exposure to the thiamethoxam chemical at risk from a proposed two-year European Union ban amid concerns to bee health is limited to about $75 million.

Global sales of the chemical are about $1 billion for Syngenta and certain proponents of the ban are trying to turn it into a “cause celebre” to extend it to other areas, according to Chief Executive Officer Michael Mack.

“We would oppose that in virtually all the places,” Mack said in a phone interview today.

Syngenta, based in Basel, “has a lot of support” from countries opposing the ban and is using an appeal on the proposal later this month to defend its products, he said. EU official failed to agree in March on whether to approve or reject the suggested two-year ban.

Syngenta and rival Bayer AG are seeking to prevent an EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid insecticides related to nicotine amid supermarket reviews of their use in farming. J Sainsbury Plc, the U.K.’s third largest grocer, said yesterday that it is “monitoring the situation very closely”, while retailer Marks & Spencer Group Plc is reviewing its position on the pesticides and will announce an update in about a month.

Grocery chain Waitrose Ltd. already plans to phase out three Bayer and Syngenta neonicotinoid pesticides from its supply chain by the end of 2014. Waitrose’s planned phase-out and the EU’s proposal cover Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin, and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.

The pesticides, which work on the central nervous-system of insects, pose a “high acute risk” to bees through the nectar and pollen of some treated crops and through drifting dust, the European Food Safety Authority wrote in a Jan. 16 report.

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