New disclosures have been made about the use of chemical pesticides prohibited in the EU by a Bulgarian agricultural family clan. Not only did large numbers of bees die from use, but also three children with symptoms of poisoning had to be hospitalized.
An earlier Euractiv investigation in the north of Bulgaria initially only concerned massive bee poisoning, last spring, but there may also be an abuse of EU subsidies in this case. Back then, a few kids in Dolna Mitropolia played outside in the field, barely paying attention to a tractor spraying the adjacent fields.
For a few hours, the mother of one of the children saw her son's face turn completely red and swelling. The boy was rushed to the hospital, where doctors concluded that he had been poisoned, along with three other children.
Many beekeepers in the city also confirmed cases of dead bees on this particular day, and one beekeeper lodged a complaint. He sent samples to a private laboratory. The samples showed residues of carbendazim, benomyl, epoxiconazole, thiophanate-methyl and florasulam. Carbendazim has not been re-approved for use in the EU since 2016. The analysis also found traces of the active substances clotiniadin and thiamethoxam, which are prohibited throughout EU.
A TV report by Euractiv now shows that Stefan Stoyanov is the landowner of both sprayed fields. He worked until 2013 as a senior expert for the Bulgarian State Agricultural Fund, while the tenant of the land was his mother's company 'Helga - Svetla Stoyanova'.
Stoyanov later became manager of a consultancy firm that consulted the Ministry of Agriculture when significant amounts were approved for EU grants for his mother's business. As it turns out, one of her sons-in-law also works for the beekeeping directorate of the State Fund for Agriculture.
The farm, like many others, benefits from the EU rural development grant program and direct payments under the EU common agricultural policy. The large, modern agricultural base was built thanks to European funds.
Bulgarian newspaper Farmer named Svetla Stoyanova 'agri businesswoman of the year' in 2018. The company also has a hotel and a modern office building. Both the State Fund for Agriculture and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency are subject to the supervision of the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
The Agency did not fine the company and concluded that all substances in the plant sample are allowed in the EU and Bulgaria. The European Parliament has recently started a separate 'standing' committee to investigate the abuse of EU subsidies.
This commission of inquiry was established after it emerged that many EU agricultural subsidies in many Eastern European countries ended up with large farms belonging to a few businesses and former civil servants and ex-politicians. This case of bee mortality, use of banned chemicals and concentration of EU subsidies has now also been reported to this new EP committee.