The scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline is compelling, Friends of the Earth said today after DEFRA Secretary Liz Truss told the NFU conference in Birmingham that the Government had “told the EU Commission that decisions on pesticides must be proportionate and based on science”.
Friends of the Earth Nature campaigner Sandra Bell said:
“The scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline is compelling, and there’s no evidence so far that restrictions on these chemicals have affected crop yields.
“If pesticides are having a negative impact on our health or environment, they must be withdrawn from use.
“The worrying decline of our bees is a threat to the future of British food security. To feed a growing population we must look after our pollinators better – along with our soil and earth worms.
“Public subsidies should be used to help farmers ensure that we have good quality, plentiful food and a thriving natural world.”
Notes to editors:
1. "We have told the EU Commission that decisions on pesticides must be proportionate and based on science to avoid holding back competitiveness of our arable farmers": Long term economic plan for food and farming announced |DEFRA press release.
2. Bees pollinate most of our high value British fruit and vegetable crops. Insect pollinators add £37 million to just 2 varieties of British apple, Cox and Gala by improving quality and yield.
3. In June 2014 the largest global study into the effects and risks of systemic pesticides including neonicotinoids was published by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides. Having studied over 1,000 peer reviewed papers the Task Force concluded that terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms were most affected by neonicotinoids followed by insect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.
4. In February 2015 a study by independent scientists at the University of Dundee found evidence that neonicotinoids at levels normally used in farming affected bumblebees’ ability to forage. Dr Chris Connolly of the University of Dundee said “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees”.
5. According to the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, oil seed rape yields for the past year - during which the partial and temporary restrictions on three neonicotinoids was in place - were “in line with the 5 year average” for crop losses i.e. the loss of crops were in line with losses in other years. (ADAS, 2014Harvest Report).