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A Toxics-Free Future

Beekeepers, environmental NGOs and civil right groups demand that Syngenta, Bayer and BASF stop killing bees

Brussels/Zurich – A Europe-wide Alliance to Save the Bees and Agriculture today made themselves heard at the annual general meetings (AGMs) of Syngenta and Bayer to demand the agrochemical companies acknowledge their role in global bee-decline and step away from threatening EU-imposed legislation against neonicotinoid pesticides which harm bees.

 

While beekeepers and ecological farming activists as part of the Alliance to Save the Bees and Agriculture [1] greet shareholders to their AGM with flyers and brochures which highlight the ongoing pollinator and agriculture crisis, representatives of the Alliance to Save the Bees and Agriculture are openly challenging the presidents of the companies within the meetings themselves. Mr. Michel Demaré (Syngenta), Mr. Dr. Marijn Dekkers (Bayer) and Mr. Hans Engel (BASF) are being confronted with their role regarding bee-decline and are asked to stop the marketing of bee-harming pesticides. Rather than promoting destructive, chemical-intensive industrial agriculture methods they should enable ecological farming [2].

 

Speaking at the Syngenta AGM, Francesco Panella, head of delegation and president of BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination, said: “It is insulting how Syngenta, Bayer and BASF try to persuade beekeepers like ourselves that bee decline is caused by the Varroa mite or malnutrition or any other factor outside of their own responsibility. At the same time, they continue to sell bee-killing pesticides and attack EU provisions aimed at protecting bees. This is hypocritical, self-serving and short-sighted. It is time to switch from the current chemical-intensive agriculture paradigm to one which is compatible with biodiversity and beekeeping.”

 

Matthias Wüthrich, Ecological farming campaigner and European bees project leader at Greenpeace Switzerland, said: “The agrochemical companies – producers of the worst beekilling-pesticides -- are desperately fighting against the EU-wide temporary ban of their best-selling pesticides. They represent a failing system of chemical-intensive, monoculture-style agriculture that leads to a loss of biodiversity and essential eco-functions like bee-pollination. But more and more people are standing up against this chemical-intensive agricultural model and demanding a shift towards ecological practices which produce healthy food for future generations. Greenpeace and the Alliance to save the Bees and agriculture are here today in their behalf. We demand Bayer, Syngenta and BASF to withdraw their legal attack against the neonicotinoid-bans imposed by European authorities and re-think their chemical-intensive agri-business model causing unacceptable damages to bees, people and the planet.”

 

Sarojeni Rengam from Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, said: “Bees are critical to food production systems. Yet, bees are threatened by highly hazardous pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, that have been created  by the agrochemical companies. Bayer, Syngenta, and BASF must stop manufacturing toxic chemicals that poison our food. Instead, biodiversity-based ecological agriculture practiced by farmers around the world must replace their antiquated toxic chemical technology.”

 

In order to expose the toxic PR of the agrochemical companies aimed at defending their bee-killing agribusiness with exaggerated figures and scaremongering scenarios about the consequences of the neonicotinoid ban (including extreme yield-drops and unbearable job-losses in Europe), Greenpeace released the report “Corporate Science Fiction”, a critical assessment of Bayer and Syngenta’s way to influence the scientific, political and public debate on neonicotinoid pesticides. [3]

 

Contacts:

Francesco Panella - Beekeeper and president of BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination (italian/french): +39 335 627 94 01 ;  +32 10 47 34 16

Matthias Wüthrich - Ecological farming campaigner and European bees project leader at Greenpeace Switzerland (german/english): +41 44 447 41 31, matthias.wuethrich@greenpeace.org

Christine Gebeneter - European bees project comms officer at Greenpeace CEE (german/english): +43 664 8574 598,christine.gebeneter@greenpeace.org

 

Notes to editors:

[1] The Alliance to Save the Bees and Agriculture consists of more than 50 European beekeeping and farmer associations, environmental and human rights organisations, consumers and slow food groups as well as independent research institutes (seehttp://publiceye.ch/en/about-the-public-eye-awards/nominating-organisations/#syngenta).

It was founded for the nomination of Bayer, Syngenta, BASF for the public eye awards 2014 (see http://publiceye.ch/en/case/syngenta-bayer-basf).

[2] Ecological farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetically engineered organisms.

[3] Greenpeace Germany 2014: “Corporate science fiction - A critical assessment of a Bayer and Syngenta funded HFFA report on neonicotinoid pesticides” published on www.greenpeace.org GERMANY

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