August 2016 – Bees and Neonicotinoids (Update #2)

August 2016 – Bees and Neonicotinoids (Update #2)

I have been receiving a large volume of correspondence again on the subject of neonicotinoids and their effect on bee populations.

Many are concerned that following the vote to leave the EU, the rules regulating use of neonicotinoids will be changed.  However, as negotiations around the UK’s exit from the EU are ongoing, and will not be completed for at least two years, in the meantime the UK will remain fully subject to all EU regulations, and therefore the current regulations will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

There are rules providing for the use of normally restricted products to be authorised in emergency situations to protect crops. If emergency authorisation is granted, this does not mean that the ban has been lifted: the facility to allow strictly controlled, targeted uses of pesticides under an emergency authorisation is an essential feature of precautionary bans.

These decisions are taken based on recommendations from the Expert Committee on Pesticides, the independent body of scientists that advises the Government. It takes all environmental factors into account, including the effects of using greater quantities of less effective alternative pesticides.

This year there have been two separate sets of applications to use neonicotinoids on part of the country’s oilseed rape crop, but in each case the Committee advised that the applications did not give sufficient assurances that the uses would be limited to those areas most in danger, nor that they would be controlled appropriately. Accordingly, Defra followed the advice of the Committee and has declined these applications.

Rest assured that restrictions on neonicotinoids will not be removed as long as the evidence shows that they should remain.  For greater detail on the current regulations and the Government’s National Pollinator Strategy for the protection of bees, please see the update I posted on this issue in May, which is available here and remains an accurate statement of our current policy.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.