Condemnation After UK Lifts Ban on Bee-Killing Neonics

Temporary reversal on pesticide will allow farmers to access harmful chemicals for 120 days

Oilseed rape fields are sprayed with neonicotinoids. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)


The UK government this week temporarily lifted a ban on controversial pesticides linked to widespread harm to bees and other insects—a move which one environmental group said “shows a blatant disregard for our wildlife.”

The ban was lifted under an “emergency” measure in response to an application by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). Under the statute, farmers cultivating around 300 square kilometers of oilseed rape will have access for 120 days to two neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, from agrochemical giants Bayer and Syngenta.

According to the NFU, the 300 square kilometers amounts to roughly 5 percent of the UK’s total oilseed rape crop. The industry association says it needs access to the pesticides to protect against cabbage stem flea beetles.

But the chemicals in question have been linked to declines in populations of pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees, as well as insects like ladybirds, which help keep crop pest numbers down.

“Although the Government has only allowed these chemicals to be used on 5% of land grown for oilseed rape, it shows a blatant disregard for our wildlife and the rules that we have in place to protect the environment,” said Paul Hetherington, fundraising and communications director for the UK-based environmental nonprofit Buglife.

Friends of the Earth bees campaigner Paul de Zylva added, “It’s scandalous that the Government has caved in to NFU pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.

“Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees and other pollinators—they should have no place in our fields and gardens,” de Zylva said.

The government also shrouded its decision in secrecy, another move denounced by green groups.

The Guardian reports:

Ministers have not made public the information provided by the NFU, citing commercial confidentiality.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also told its expert committee on pesticides (ECP) to halt its normal practice of publishing the minutes of meetings at which the neonicotinoid applications were discussed, in order to avoid “provoking representations from different interest groups”.

But the department’s attempt to gag its own expert advisers did not go unnoticed by those so-called “interest groups.”

“The last time the Conservatives stood for office, they said they were going to be the greenest Government ever. The outcome of this decision and the secrecy surrounding the process indicates otherwise,” Buglife’s Hetherington said.

A study published earlier this year in Nature found that wild bee populations were cut in half around fields where neonics were used to treat crops. On Thursday, Nature noted the connection and reported:

Lynn Dicks, a pollinator researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, says that in light of Rundlöf and colleague’s work, “I find this [DEFRA] decision extraordinary”.

Based on that research, she says, “areas with 5% of the UK’s rape crop might expect to lose two-thirds of their wild bumblebee queens going into the winter of 2016/17 because of this decision”.

The European Union banned neonics in 2013 over the concerns that they hurt pollinators, but the ban will be up for review in December.


13 Responses to “Condemnation After UK Lifts Ban on Bee-Killing Neonics”

  1. sovereigntea says:

    Only one of these DEFRA clowns knows anything about farming.George Eustace coming from a fruit farming background he ought to know better.

    A for the corporate shills at the NFU who gave them the remit to dictate government policy ?

    The three government stooges responsible for DEFRA are Junior Bilderberg attendee Eton-educated Rory Stewart, George Eustace and

    Elizabeth Truss

    Career outside politics

    Elizabeth was previously Deputy Director at Reform. She also worked in the energy and telecommunications industry for 10 years as a commercial manager and economics director, and is a qualified management accountant.

  2. sovereigntea says:

    NFU comment on neonicotinoid distribution
    Last updated: 24 Jul 2015

    Further to the NFU securing the emergency use of enough neonicotinoid seed treatments from the Chemical Regulation Directorate to treat five per cent of the oilseed rape crop in England (around 30,000ha) we understand the following information:

    The authorisation from the CRD requires treated seed distribution to be targeted to areas of highest risk. This means that farms in four counties will have access to neonicotinoid seed treatment products under the emergency use authorisation. They are Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Last year there was approximately 90,000 Ha of oilseed rape grown in these four counties.
    Evidence presented to the Expert Committee on Pesticides showed that these four counties were the hardest hit by cabbage stem flea beetle in the 2014/15 season.
    The products will be for certified seed only.
    Farmers who use the product will be asked to take part in scientific research to measure the impact of the plant protection products on their crops.

    NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “We have been working with the suppliers to better understand how the neonicotinoid seed treatments will be made available after the NFU secured the emergency use authorisation to provide much needed protection from the pest cabbage stem flea beetle.

    “As we know the amount of product available will be to treat five per cent of the oilseed rape crop in England amounting to around 30,000ha. The NFU understands that four counties will be allocated treated seed. They are Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This has been based on the evidence presented to the Expert Committee on Pesticides and official data which showed these counties were the worst affected by flea beetle damage in the 2014/15 season.

    “We understand the emergency authorisations will apply to certified seed only and there will be strict stewardship agreements in place governing its use. It is important to have the details finalised so that farmers know how they can access this treated seed.”

    “As an oilseed rape grower who suffered flea beetle damage last year but who farms in Essex, a county not in the four chosen counties, I can fully understand the frustration of those growers who will not have access to neonicotinoid seed dressings this year when trying to establish crops. However, I realise that if we are to lobby in the future for a return to the situation where all growers can benefit from this technology then getting a few thousand acres of oilseed rape sown with neonicotinoid seed dressings will help demonstrate their importance for all of us.”

  3. alan lee says:

    The U.K. managed to feed itself in the past well enough without the use of Monsanto and Beyer . The problems that have arisen can mostly be attributed to the vast monocultures being grown by farms which have forgotten the necessity of rotation of crops,natural manures (green or animal) and who think that pouring chemical fertilizers into the impoverished soil will compensate. Chemical fertilizers are certainly not “traditional” as many farmers
    seem to believe these days.

    • pauline says:

      Alan,we never had any of this filth on our food which they put on today,all we had when I was a child was good old manure,and NO ONE HAD ALL THE ILLNESSES we currently see today

  4. sir charles drake says:

    rory stewart of the afghan poppy fields A
    a rothschild cross dresser eye hear lovely boy in high heels and nothing but chanel and maybe a pentagram sin bull.
    he nose much about massive factory farm from years in helmand and camp bondsteel.
    helicopter journeys for an hour over endless opium fields.
    round up and neonicotinoids work best by the thousand of gallons.
    who cares about some old bees monsanto can make gmo new ones.
    rory rory rory such a softly spoken rape
    spilt seed lover.
    best to hide the kinder from this young un lover.

  5. Lynn says:

    This evil Knows no bounds !! they know what they are doing. All part of the big plan to control nature and us. Hunger will be a tool for slavery.

  6. Lynn says:

    Our Governments are there to allow this….all vetted and blackmailed-bought. We have to hold them ultimatley responsible. This is how they get this legislation passed. They own the lawmakers.

  7. Lynn says:

    Agenda 21 !!!!

  8. Miss Teree says:

    Was it Einstein that said if all the bees die us humans would only have 4 years before being completely wiped out – by allowing these posionous chemicals they are essentially going to force us into mass unvoluntary suicide – you can bet they have their own bees that are immune

  9. sir charles drake says:

    classic fm has lovely soothing adverts on and one advert on repeat over and over about special deals on roundup weedol.
    almost desperate to shift the stuff.
    someones making a money loss for a good talmudic reason.
    think i am gonna buy me some kosher food with the nice tree of life saturn tora seal on blessed by the rabbi himself.
    my life already

    • ian says:

      You’re right Sir Charles. Desperate to shift their poxy carcinogenic Roundup. Possibly they can make a sweetener or water treatment out of the heap they are left with.

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