Despite a ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on crops that the EU brought into effect, the U.K. government has temporarily lifted it. It is allowing the use of the pesticides in parts of the country, though it is not known exactly which parts have the go ahead.
The neonicotinoid pesticides have been linked to a drop in bee populations; there is evidence that shows wild bees that have come into contact with these chemicals have hives that contain two thirds fewer queens, resulting in a negative impact in their ability to survive over winter.
Even with the EU-wide ban, the U.K. government has temporarily lifted it, and is allowing the use of the pesticides in certain parts of the country. Conservation and environmental groups are outraged, and are criticizing the government for its secrecy over the issue. The groups were already on the attack after finding out that the government virtually gagged its own scientific advisers.
The government refused to publish the minutes from discussions on the use of the chemicals.
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Friends of the Earth bees campaigner Paul de Zylva said: “It’s scandalous that the Government has caved in to NFU (National Farmers’ Union) pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.”
“Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees and other pollinators—they should have no place in our fields and gardens” he added.
According to the NFU website, the NFU has secured the emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments providing much needed protection from the pest cabbage stem flea beetle for 5 percent of the oilseed rape crop in England, amounting to around 30,000 ha.
The products that farmers will be able to have access to are Modesto (Bayer) and Cruiser OSR (Syngenta). The emergency use has been granted for 120 days. Discussions on the logistics of distributing the seed are underway, it added.
Bayer and Syngenta contain a neonicotinoid called clothianidin, and the evidence is showing that these pesticides are harming the environment.
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Guy Smith, the vice president of the NFU, said: “The NFU has worked relentlessly to submit a robust application, and we’re glad to finally see a positive result. However, we know that this isn’t enough—flea beetle threat is widespread problem on a national scale and the extremely limited nature of this authorization is unfortunately not going to help the vast majority of farmers in need of the protection.”
“We will now look to work with the regulators towards more efficient authorizations after the arduous process we have been through to get to this point,” he added.
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Dr. Lynn Dicks, biodiversity and ecosystem services research fellow at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC: “We now have robust evidence that neonicotinoids have a serious impact on free-living bumblebee colonies in real farmed landscapes.”
“The Bayer ingredient allowed under this derogation—clothianidin—is the one tested in the recent study. It showed that bumblebees in landscapes with treated oilseed rape produced only a third as many queens as those in landscapes treated with other insecticide sprays, but not neonicotinoid.”
“On this basis, areas with 5 percent of the UK’s rape crop might expect to lose two-thirds of their wild bumblebee queens going into the winter of 2016/17 because of this decision. I would like to ask the two companies who gain from this decision—Bayer and Syngenta—to pay scientists to monitor the impacts on wild bumblebees and solitary bees, in comparison with areas that remain under the ban,” Dicks added.
It seems everybody forgets that we need bees. If you have something to add, then please leave a comment.