Science - April 16, 2015


Roelof Kleis

Who? Professor of Nature Management Frank Berendse
Why? Co-author of critical report on the use of neonicotinoids What? Berendse was on Radio 1 and the NOS news, in full-page articles in the Volkskrant, Trouw, NRC and NRC Next, and told his story on nature radio programme Vroege Vogels.

What were the responses like?
‘Fellow scientists thought it was an excellent and objective report. The industry, predictably, thought it was prejudiced and subjective. Neonicotinoids represent billions in turnover. They will do everything they can to refute our arguments. Importantly, state secretary Sharon Dijksma has now said she will get the CTGB (the Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides) to take a crucial look at the authorization of these products.’

Surely there is only one conclusion possible for this report: a ban?
‘We don’t say neonicotinoids should be banned. That is not our role. But the CTGB would have to come up with good arguments to carry on authorizing these substances. I don’t think that is possible.’

And in Europe?
‘The report was written by the joint Academies of Science at the behest of the EU. I was on the committee on behalf of the Netherlands. The EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, is now drawing up recommendations for the European Commission on the basis of our report and (secret) data provided by the industry.’