Legal conditions for use have now been adapted to the EU prohibition of outdoor use of neonicotinoids

With its decrees in early September, the Ctgb has implemented the EU decision to limit the authorised use of the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin to crops in closed, permanent greenhouses. In addition, plants treated with these substances are not permitted to be transplanted outdoors. This protects bees and other pollinators. The Ctgb decrees include four amendments to existing authorisations at the request of the authorisation holder and five withdrawals that will take effect on 19 September. The use of these products will be temporarily permitted under the old conditions during a derogation period, which ends 19 December 2018. This also applies to seed that has been treated with one of the abovementioned substances and is intended for unprotected cultivation. Additionally, these regulations apply to bulbs and seeds intended for export outside the EU.

To protect bees, in 2013 the EU decided to prohibit the use of neonicotinoids on flowering plants. This prevents bees from being directly exposed to these insecticides. The aim of the latest prohibition is to prevent exposure via other routes, such as flowering in succeeding crops. This will prevent residues of neonicotinoids used in greenhouses from contaminating succeeding flowering crops via the soil.

In late April, the European Commission restricted the use of products based on imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin by requiring ‘that the resulting crop stays its entire life cycle within a permanent greenhouse.’ In that decision, the Commission indicated that this life cycle ends before the harvest. Consequently, the sale of products such as harvested cut flowers, tomatoes or head lettuce from treated plants remains possible.

The EU decision led to questions about uses in potted plants, which are grown both indoors and outdoors after cultivation in the greenhouse. Of these plants, bedding and container plants are planted outdoors and are therefore subject to the new restrictions. For bulb flowers for indoor use such as Amaryllis and for houseplants, the use of neonicotinoids remains permissible because they are not planted outdoors and bees are not exposed to them.

Finally, the EU restrictions also impact the protected cultivation of bulb flowers and tuber flowers. Some of these bulbs and tubers are used for propagation and are later planted outdoors, while some remain inside the greenhouse for their entire life cycle. For the time being, the use of these insecticides for immersion treatment of bulbs and tubers in these crops is not permitted; for spray application in bulb flowers and tuber flowers, the same restrictions apply as for other floriculture in greenhouses. The Ctgb would like to allow immersion treatment at a later stage when authorisation holders and the sector come up with a comprehensive system to ensure that treated bulbs and tubers can be distinguished from untreated ones and remain in the greenhouse for their entire lifecycle.