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Source: Farmers Weekly [abridged, edited]

The French government is planning to lift a blanket ban on the use of neonicotinoids to help save its sugar beet industry. Crops have been ravaged by aphids this year [2020] with widespread yield losses reported across the country. UK beet growers are also experiencing crop losses due to high levels of virus yellows.

The French government announced a series of measures to support the "unprecedented crisis", including for the first time a derogation to use neonic seed treatments for the 2021 season -- and, if necessary, for 2022 and 2023. This follows similar derogations in other EU countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Poland.

To date, the UK government has resisted calls for similar derogations. British Sugar has insisted that the ban is not warranted for sugar beet as it is not a flowering crop and does not attract bees. But DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) said, "The weight of evidence shows a significant environmental risk posed by neonicotinoids. We will maintain our current restrictions unless the scientific evidence changes."

[Byline: Philip Case]
Communicated by:

[Virus yellows is an important disease of sugar beet in Europe and elsewhere, with reported yield losses of up to 50 percent. The beet yellows complex may include one or several viruses, depending on the area, such as _Beet yellows virus_ (BYV; genus _Closterovirus_), _Beet mild yellowing virus_ (BMYV; genus _Polerovirus_) and _Beet chlorosis virus_ (BChV; genus _Polerovirus_). These viruses are transmitted by aphids (_Myzus persicae_ and other species). Disease management usually includes phytosanitation as well as vector control by field applications and seed treatments with insecticides.

The disease had already been considered a re-emerging threat in parts of Europe, even with most of the crops receiving an effective neonicotinoid seed treatment (ProMED-mail post 20100220.0582). Banning of neonicotinoids, the emergence of vector resistances to some foliar insecticides (for example pyrethroids), as well as the warming climate favouring an increase in aphid numbers suggest that integrated management strategies will be required in the future to control the disease.

Resistance breeding for multiple pathogens is difficult because host susceptibility is likely to involve different genes for the different pathogens. Ongoing trials established in the United Kingdom (ProMED-mail post 20200218.6999011) have identified some beet varieties that are less affected by symptoms. While they were low-yielding cultivars and their use would not improve the overall sugar yield of a crop, these can be considered promising results.

Europe, overview: and

Sugar beet virus yellows leaf symptoms:,, and
Sugar beet field affected by virus yellows: and

Extract of the above story also at:
Information on sugar beet virus yellows:,,,,, and
Current situation in France via:
Ongoing research and resistance trials in UK:, and
Alternative approved aphidicides via:
Virus taxonomy via:
Information on aphid vectors via:
- Mod.DHA]




It has been pointed out that I made a mistake in a ProMED post and said that imidacloprid use may be banned in France when I should said use of neonicotinoids as in the article. Apologies for that. It may not be all neonicotinoids.