Reject Bee-Harming Pesticides, Urge Friends of the Earth

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Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to reject a second NFU application asking them to allow farmers to use banned pesticide, neonicotinoid. Friends of the Earth say approving use the pesticide will be significantly harmful Britain’s bees. If the application is allowed, farmers will begin to use neonicotinoid-treated seed this autumn.

The application will be discussed by the government’s official advisor, the Expert Committee on Pesticides, which is meeting next on Tuesday 14 June.

Andrew Pendleton, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said: “Having last month turned down the NFU’s application to use bee-harming pesticides, it would be doubly reckless to allow their use now and also completely unnecessary. However, last year the Government caved in to their special pleading after first turning them down.

“Oilseed rape yields have actually risen since the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was introduced, while the evidence of the harm these chemicals pose to bees has increased.

“Bees are essential for pollinating our crops – we can’t afford to gamble with their future. The Expert Committee and the government must uphold the ban and keep these dangerous pesticides out of our fields.”

Friends of the Earth is urging the government to refuse the application, pointing out that there is no special circumstances justifying emergency authorisation:

– Recent scientific evidence has added to the concerns about the impact of the three neonicotinoid pesticides on bees and other pollinators;
– There is no evidence that the presence of Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle damage and larvae consistently translates into reduced yield – government figures show the average UK oilseed rape yield rose nearly 7% last year, in the first harvest after the ban was introduced;
– There is no available evidence that neonicotinoid seed treatments allowed as a result of last year’s emergency authorisation were effective against Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle
– Crop losses due to Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle were lower this autumn, compared to the previous one
– Damage from slugs last year was as much of a problem as Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle yet neonicotinoid pesticides could be counter-productive to slug control by damaging the insects that eat slugs.
– Non-chemical means of controlling pests are available to farmers and need to more widely taken up.

The Great British Bee Count, organised by Friends of the Earth with support from Buglife, is running until the end of June.