Government faces legal action if UK does not vote to ban bee killing insecticides

Tuesday 16th July 2013

Buglife is asking Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson to support the European Commission’s proposed restrictions on three neonicotinoid insecticides in an EU vote on the 25th February, and, if this is not done, is prepared to reignite legal action.

Thursday 14th February

Last month, the European Commission put forward a paper to all member states in the European Union which called for a significant ban on neonicotinoids – Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam. Earlier this year, a report by the European Food Safety Authority identified that there was a high risk to bees from these common neonicotinoids which are used on 1.2 million hectares of the British countryside. Owen Paterson has recently been reported to be opposed to an immediate ban.

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife’s Pesticide Officer said “The UK Government has a legal obligation to protect these pollinators, the loss of which could cost the UK economy £510 million a year in pollination services alone. Buglife initiated legal action last year in relation to the UK Government’s failure to take precautions in light of overwhelming scientific evidence; we are ready to go to the courts if these insecticides are not banned and we are investigating the legal implications of a UK no vote”.

The ban is intended for crops which are ‘attractive to bees’, such as oilseed rape and maize and will restrict sowing seeds into the ground during the summer to avoid poisoning from dust clouds. If the ban goes through, it is due to start by the 1st July 2013, and will be reviewed after two years. Buglife is also calling on concerned members of the public and MPs to help persuade Owen Paterson, to vote in favour of the EU suspension by writing to their MP. A template letter is available on the Buglife website. 

Vanessa said “Neonicotinoid insecticides are frequently used as a seed treatment for many crops. The chemicals remain in the plants, travelling into the nectar and pollen where they are consumed by bees and other wild pollinators such as butterflies and hoverflies. These proposed changes in legislation are a step in the right direction, although not a complete solution, to saving pollinators from toxic insecticides.”