Government rejects recommendations to save bees from pesticides

Tuesday 10th September 2013

In its response, published today, the Government misrepresents its own science in deciding not to implement recommendations to save pollinators from neonicotinoid pesticides. 

In March, following extensive evidence gathering, the Environmental Audit Committee published its ‘Pollinators and Pesticides’ report, concluding that neonicotinoids are having an “especially deleterious impact on insect pollinators”.  However, Government has decided that it:-

  •    Will not improve the transparency of the regulatory process so that studies done by pesticide companies are in the public domain, stating that “the cost of publishing this information, even on the internet, would be substantial”.
  •    Will not raise the UK’s environmental protection standards by including other pollinators in the national risk assessment process.
  •    Will not ban all amenity and garden use of neonicotinoids.
  •    Will not set up a pollinator monitoring scheme – although this is not ruled out for the future.

Worst of all, in rejecting the many scientific papers that have shown impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators, the Government misrepresents its own bumblebee study.  The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) study published in March has been widely recognised as being deeply flawed.  Despite the small number of samples and methodology problems, the study revealed significant effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebees, with residues of clothianidin predicting low queen production, and a relationship between thiamethoxam and colony mass.  It is disingenuous for the Government to state that “The Fera study found no relationship between colony growth and neonicotinoid residues within pollen and nectar in the colonies.”

The Government confirmed that it will reluctantly implement the EU wide partial ban on the three most widely used neonicotinoids after the European Food Standards Agency concluded that they represented a high risk to Honeybees.

Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow commented “We are again disappointed that Government has rejected the recommendations from another independent body that has urged action to protect the environment from these bee killing pesticides.”

Given this further evidence of inaction Buglife will be writing to the Government to establish if the current review of neonicotinoid use announced by their Chemicals Regulation Directorate in April, but not mentioned in the Government response to the EAC, is still underway and if it will address a full range of environmental concerns.