Buglife welcomes sensible decision on pesticides

Thursday 12th May 2016

Buglife welcomes news that The NFU’s and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) applications for a second neonicotinoid emergency derogation to use the insecticides on oilseed rape (OSR) has been refused.  Buglife believes this is a sensible decision, but one that should also have been taken last year.


As a result of last year’s NFU derogation many fields in eastern counties were split, with half being sown with neonic treated OSR seeds and the other half being untreated.  Provisional results presented by ADAS (the UK's largest independent provider of environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice) indicate that at the 3-5 leaf stage there was no different between the treated and untreated sides of the split fields.  The neonics were making no difference to the effective establishment of the crop, but were putting our wild pollinators at risk.


Perhaps we should not be surprised at the ineffectiveness of neonics to improve OSR establishment or yield as in last year’s NFU application they admitted that in relation to the high levels of flea beetle seen in autumn 2014 “Had the 2014/15 Emergency Use Approval been given, the problems seen in the east and south east of England would not have been prevented.”


Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife commented. “Oilseed rape yields went up by 7% last year, this is not an ‘emergency’, the loss of bees and pollinating insects is the emergency.  The decision to refuse to allow the continued use of neonicotinoid insecticides on oilseed rape in the UK is great news for the bees and for the hundreds of thousands of British people who have asked the Government to do more to protect our disappearing pollinators.” 


At a workshop organised by 38 Degrees and Friends of the Earth on Monday in the House of Commons several MPs expressed profound concerns that these important environmental decisions are being made in secret, behind closed doors, with no public consultation.  Until today we did not know what the NFU were requesting or even that the AHDB had also made a request. 


Shardlow concluded. “This issue of secret environmental decisions must surely be resolved; it only favours the manufacturers (who have been allowed to attend the meetings) and profoundly disadvantages the public. It is disappointing that the reasoning of the Expert Committee on Pesticides in refusing to support the applications focusses more on technical issues relating to targeting and control, rather than the more obvious point that the confirmed risks of using these agrotoxins clearly outweigh the elusive claimed benefits.”