Following a week of intense public activity in defence of our bees and pollinators, including demonstrations outside Downing Street, public petitions and letters to ministers, Syngenta have withdrawn their application to Defra to permit them to sell enough neonicotinoid treated oil seed rape seed to plant 186,000 Ha of toxic crops across England.
Buglife and other NGO’s were alarmed by this cynical attempt to exploit the fears of farmers and the weakness of the UK government on the issue. Had it been approved the ban would have undermined the science based EC decision to ban neonicotinoids from flowering crops in 2013 and 2014; a measure carefully formulated to reduce the exposure of bees and pollinators to these toxins. NGO’s opposing lifting the ban were publically backed up by the Labour Party and Green Party.
In withdrawing their application Syngenta explained that "There has been insufficient time to conclude on the conditions for verifying and auditing planting locations which were specific to this limited use application.”
Syngenta went on to welcome that the Government will be assessing the establishment of the crop in the UK this season and asserted that “Syngenta will consider making a new application for the 2015/16 season to ensure British farmers have access to a technology which helps them to grow crops sustainably and which is safe for bees.”
On Farming Today last week the NFU claimed that “we have just found that 70% of the Swedish Spring Oil Seed Rape crop was destroyed this year by flea beetles”. A claim that Buglife showed to be completely without foundation.
In truth oil seed rape crops across the EU are flourishing and experts are predicting that 2014 will set a new record for the size of the oil seed rape harvest.
“This cynical attempt by Syngenta to undermine the neonicotinoid ban has seriously backfired, all it has achieved is to show that the British public care hugely about bees and pollinators and are prepared to stand up to those who threaten them. We thank everyone who helped the ecology that feeds us.” Said Matt Shardlow, Buglife CEO.
Buglife thanks particularly Friends of the Earth, 38 Degrees, PAN, Client Earth and Avaaz for their efforts over the last week, as well as other supporting organisations including the Soil Association, Natural Beekeepers Association, Environmental Justice Foundation, RSPB, Greenpeace, Labour Party and Green Party, but perhaps most importantly the hundreds of thousands of members of the public who stood up for bees and pollinators, signing petitions and writing letters.