Neonicotinoids: British government puts bees at risk
In the UK, farmers will be able to use EU banned pesticides linked to serious harm to bees.
UK government succumbs to the pressure of National Farmers Union (NFU) to allow the use of neonic-dressed seeds in 2015/2016 campaign to protect oilseed rape crops from the 'cabbage stem flea beetle'.
The exemption is allowed over an area of 30 000 ha, covering 5% of England's oilseed rape crop. NFU initially asked for permission on 79% of the oilseed rape surface.
The decision allows two products, Syngenta's 'Cruiser OSR' and Bayer's 'Modesto' to be used in oilseed rape fields.
The civil society and NGOs have promptly reacted and qualified the decision of « scandalous », given the high number of scientific studies showing evidence of the negative impacts of such insecticides for the environment and biodiversity. A petition has been launched against the government decision and the association Friends of the Earth took a first legal step to challenge it.
Moreover, this makes a total absurd political decision when we consider that the first harvest results of oilseed rape (2014-2015) planted without neonicotinoid are higher than that of the last ten year average. Indeed, the UK’s largest independent agricultural consultancy confirmed that with 15% of the oilseed rape harvested, yields are between 3.5 and 3.7 tonnes/ha, higher than the normal average of 3.4.
Matt Shardlow, Buglife’s CEO said “This is further evidence that neonicotinoids are not essential to maintaining crop yields. While some farmers struggled to establish their oilseed rape crop because the weather last year was ideal for flea beetles, where they have persisted the results have been good. We seem to have forgotten that bees and other pollinators are essential to good crop yields, in the trade off this year pollinators may have had a bigger positive effect than any negative impact of flea beetles”.
Francesco Panella, Bee Life President said: “Oilseed rape is today one of the most attractive melliferous crop for honeybees. We invite farmers' organisations and governments to stop pushing for the - so-called "preventive" use - of these pesticides that have unacceptable persistence and toxicity effects. Allow the use of these pesticides means to transform agricultural production in a systematic destruction of fertility, an environmental disaster and a crime against the future of farming”.
Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination
Tel: +32 10 47 16 34 Place Croix du Sud, 4 bte L7.07.09