I thought it might be useful to update you on the Government’s position regarding this issue, on which I previously posted a response in April.
We very much recognise the importance of bees and other pollinators to our food security and natural environment. That’s why:
- in November 2014 we published the National Pollinator Strategy to provide a framework for collective action to help manage and raise awareness of the pressures facing pollinators
- we have also launched the Bees’ Needs campaign to raise public awareness
- our £3 billion Countryside Stewardship scheme includes the first ever wild pollinator and farm wildlife package, which will see more funding made available to farmers and landowners who take steps to help pollinators thrive
The UK Government has implemented the EU restrictions on neonicotinoids in full. An EU-wide review of the science relating to neonicotinoids and bees is now under way and the UK will contribute to the review as it progresses. We have said throughout that we want this to be founded firmly on a strengthened scientific evidence base. We have also made clear that we believe that decisions on the use of neonicotinoids should be based on a full assessment of all the available scientific information.
As part of these restrictions, emergency authorisations for crop protection are permitted as long as they are deemed necessary “because of a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means” and are for a “limited and controlled use”. In the UK, Ministers are advised on any application by the independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, which consists of 15 leading experts in the field.
In April, the Government received two applications for emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid seed treatments for use on oilseed rape. These applications were assessed by the Expert Committee and were found not to meet the criteria for authorisation. Based on this assessment, the applications were rejected by Defra. The Committee’s advice can be found here.
We continue to believe that decisions on the use of neonicotinoids should be based on the science and that decisions should be made only once regulators are satisfied that they meet safety standards for people and the environment.
We will also continue to do everything we can to boost the vital habitats that bees and pollinators need, as well as encouraging everyone from major landowners to window-box gardeners to play their part.
I hope all those constituents who have been concerned about this issue will find this information useful and that concerns will be assuaged.