Coalition of UK environmental NGOs urges UK Government to enforce bee-harming pesticide bans
Thirteen leading UK environmental organisations are today calling for the UK Government to show its commitment to reversing bee declines by fully enforcing the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.
From today, the EU-wide ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in bee declines comes into force across the EU for multiple uses on plants pollinated by bees. The moratorium could hugely benefit Europe’s declining populations of bees and other insect pollinators, which are essential to our food security and economy.
The UK Government voted against the ban earlier this year, despite growing scientific evidence that ‘neonics’ harm bee health. Although the UK has to implement the ban, clarification is lacking on how it will be effectively enforced and monitored. In addition, there are concerns regarding the safe disposal of unused neonics and treated seeds.
Since March 2013 leading UK environment organisations, Avaaz, Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network UK, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Soil Association, The Wildlife Trusts and 38 Degrees have continued to work together to express public concerns about the future of pollinators and the vital services they provide, the need for Government action and the safety of products used in farming and growing.
The Bee Coalition has released the following joint statement:
“Given unprecedented public concern for bees and the risks they face from pesticides, we welcome the imminent implementation of the ban on certain neonicotinoid products, which have been shown to be harmful to bees and pollinators. The UK Government’s opposition to the ban is despite strong scientific evidence about the risks and overwhelming public support for firm action. We call on the Government to stop bowing to the powerful agrochemical industry and ensure this temporary ban is fully implemented and enforced.”
The coalition of organisations, which came together for the March of the Beekeepers in 2013, is calling for the UK Government to:
- Provide clear answers on how the ban will be enforced
- Provide information and advice to growers about safer alternative means of pest control
- Publish comprehensive guidelines on safe neonicotinoid disposal.
- In April 2013, 13 major UK environmental organisations collaborated for The March of the Beekeepers – Avaaz, Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network UK, RSPB, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Soil Association, The Wildlife Trusts and 38 Degrees. These organisations have a combined membership of over 5 million.
- The pesticides undergoing restrictions from the 1st December 2013 are imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Within two years the EU Commission will review the scientific evidence available surrounding the regulation (no. 485/2013).
- The restrictions are not blanket. They include all amateur uses and all uses on crops deemed attractive to bees and summer-sown cereals. There are exceptions: amenity uses, use on crops in greenhouses and use on winter-sown cereals.
- Bees and other pollinating insects have been declining in recent decades, with losses affecting over 80% of our butterfly species, crashes in honey bee colonies and the extinction of two bumble bee species. 80% of plant species in Europe are insect pollinated, including crops and wild plants.
- The Government values the economic value of the UK’s insect pollinators at £510 million per year. If farmers had to grow crops without pollination by bees it would cost UK farmers an extra £1.8 billion per year, raising food prices.
- Monitoring neonics: Currently no in-field monitoring of pesticides occurs, so it is unclear how the government will ensure compliance with the requirements of the regulation.
- Disposal: Local Authorities need to advertise to residents the facilities available for neonic disposal. The Government needs to make clear guidelines for commercial neonic supplies (for example in treated seeds).
- The National Pollinator Strategy was announced by Lord de Mauley of Defra in June 2013. Its development is advised by the ‘Defra expert group’ and workshops with stakeholders. The Strategy is to be published in April.
- It is hoped that many recommendations made by the Environmental Audit Committee, which were ignored by Defra, will be addressed in the NPS, such as the implementation of a National Monitoring Programme.
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