U.K. Environmental Audit calls for neonicotinoid ban
In a bid to buck the trend of declining bee populations in the U.K., a committee of 18 members of parliament (MPs) has urged authorities to ban the use of pesticides imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX on flowering crops.
The call follows a body of peer-reviewed research that suggests one group of pesticides that include neonicotinoids has a damaging impact on pollinators.
The Environmental Audit Committee appointed by the U.K. House of Commons said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ought to follow the lead of other countries like France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.
In a release, committee chair Joan Walley MP said there was enough scientific evidence to warrant precautionary action with a moratorium on these pesticides to be introduced on Jan. 1, 2014.
"Defra seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy," she said in a release, following the publication of the committee's Pollinators and Pesticides report.
"If farmers had to pollinate fruit and vegetables without the help of insects it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds and we would all be stung by rising food prices.
"Defra Ministers have refused to back EU efforts to protect pollinators and can’t even come up with a convincing plan to encourage bee-friendly farming in the UK."
The release highlighted that two thirds of wild insect pollinator species - such as bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, carrion flies, beetles, midges and moths - have suffered population declines in the U.K.
Garden retailers like B&Q, Wickes and Homebase have voluntarily withdrawn non-professional plant protection products that contain neonicotinoids.
"The Government should follow the UK’s leading garden retailers in recognising that action needs to be taken to save our bees.
"There is no justification for people continuing to use these products on their Dahlias when they could be having a detrimental effect on pollinator populations.
"Banning the sale of neonicotinoids for domestic use would at least create an urban safe haven for bees."
The release highlighted that while pesticide manufacturers often claimed that linking their products to bee decline was flawed, much of the agrochemical industry's data was kept secret on grounds of commercial confidentiality.
"Pesticide companies often try to pick holes in studies linking their products to bee decline, but when pushed to publish their own research and safety studies they hide behind claims of commercial sensitivity," she said.
"The industry must open itself to greater academic scrutiny if it wants to justify its continued opposition to the precautionary protection of pollinators."
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