ESA Press Release - January 2013

Study reveals economic and environmental benefits of insecticide seed treatment for EU food chain and society

More than €17 billion of economic activity based on neonicotinoid seed treatment over a 5 year period, say experts

The Berlin-based think tank “Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture” (HFFA) today released the first comprehensive review of the socio-economic and environ-mental value of neonicotinoid seed treatment (application of specific insecticides to seed prior to sowing) within the European Union. The study, conducted in late 2012, is based on data collected at country level from a broad base of industry ex-perts, practitioners and farmers.

The report, which is supported by ESA, Copa-Cogeca (European Farmers Union) and ECPA (European Crop Protection Association) finds that neonicotinoid seed treat-ment contributes more than €2 billion annually to commodity crop revenues and reduces production costs by €1 billion across the EU. The true annual economic benefit of neonicotinoids to the grower, when compared to not using pesticides at all, is over €4 billion.

In total, over a five year period, a ban of these products which is currently advocat-ed by some groups in view of their alleged negative impact on bee health, would erode the EU’s economic welfare by up to €17 billion and put the jobs of over a million people engaged in arable production at risk; at least 50,000 farm jobs would disappear if the technology was banned.
The study also reveals the neonicotinoid’s impact on global food production and the environment. If the products would no longer be available, this would need to be compensated by making 3 million hectars of new land available outside of the EU and led to significant additional CO2 emissions.

Commenting on the release of the report at a presentation in Brussels, ESA’s Secre-tary General Garlich von Essen said:

“Seed treatment is the technology of choice for the seed industry and for farmers and vegetable growers across Europe. It allows targeted crop protection with mini-mal quantities of pesticides, saves labour, time and energy, and avoids CO2 emis-sions and external land use. This new report shows just how crucial neonicotinoid seed treatments are for the competitiveness of the agri-food chain and what is at stake for our economy and the environment.”

ESA is urging the European Commission and Member States to reflect on the find-ings of the report in the further discussion of seed treatments. “The report is based on an economic impact assessment approach that should serve as reference for such discussions in the future. It allows decision makers a truly informed judge-ment of all relevant economic aspects in a policy debate.”

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