Bee pollinating canola plant

In efforts to reduce the spread of Colony Collapse Disorder—the mysterious worldwide disappearance of bees leading to the failure of hives and the important pollination function bees play in agriculture—France has announced it will ban the Cruiser OSR pesticide made by Swiss chemical company, Syngenta.

Cruiser OSR is widely used on rape seeds (canola) as a coating before planting and contains the chemical thiamethoxam, a member of the neonicotinoid family of chemicals, which a recent report from the French health and safety agency, ANSES, found causes bees to become disoriented, incapable of finding their way back to their hives and to eventually die.

With two weeks for Syngenta to submit its own evidence to the contrary, a spokesperson for the agro-chemical company rejected the decision, citing that the conclusion was based on a single study and that there have been “no cases of bee mortality identified as being linked to Cruiser.”

The leading rapeseed producer in Europe, France’s ban is slated to take effect before the next planting season begins in late summer, and the country has also urged the European Commission to reconsider its authorization process for Cruiser-treated rapeseed before the season begins.

Neonicotinoids are just one of the many chemical pesticides and potential factors being pinpointed as the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, but many experts suggest there may not be a single trigger of the phenomenon but rather a toxic mix of chemicals, possibly even parasites and other factors connected to the recent decline of bee populations around the world.

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Image: Claus Rebler