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French court suspends sale of 2 Dow pesticides over possible risk to bees

A beehive - several pesticides have been identified as a danger to bees REUTERS

A French court has temporarily banned the use of two new pesticides produced by US corporation Dow, following campaigners' claims they could be harmful to bees.

Citing the precautionary principle, Judge Didier Sabroux on Friday suspended an earlier authorisation of the sale of Dow's Transform and Closer pesticides until a definitive ruling on their legality has been made.

There was not enough information about their effects on already vulnerable bee populations, he said.

France's food and environment watchdog Anses gave Transform and Closer, which are used to treat crops against aphids, the green light at the end of September.

The products' active ingredient, sulfaxoflor, is authorised for use in 41 countries.

But campaign group Générations Futures claims tests have shown that sulfaxoflor is a new kind of neocotinoid.

Neocotinoid-based pesticides are in the process of being banned in France.

Anses admits that sulfaxoflor is harmful to bees, Sabroux said, and he said there was no guarantee that the pesticides would always be sprayed by professionals trained in the use of appropriate doses.

France's agriculture and environment ministries asked Anses in October to examine new scientific research and report on it within three months.

Dow, whose agroscience arm is headquartered near Nice, where the court sat, argues that sulfaxoflor is "more respectful of biodiversiaty".

The company and Anses have two weeks to appeal the decision.