Britain opposes EU pesticide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for bee deaths around the world.
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Tuesday 19 March 2013
Extraordinary steps were taken by the British Government last night to head off a proposed EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been widely blamed for bee deaths around the world.
The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, circulated a note to all 27 EU member states saying there was not enough evidence yet for a ban, which environmental campaigners have increasingly called for and is already supported by 13 EU countries. In a Brussels vote on a ban last Friday, in which the UK Government abstained, the necessary majority could not be reached and the issue remained deadlocked. The British abstention was widely criticised.
However, under EU rules, if the deadlock continues, the European Commission, the EU civil service which proposed the suspension of the three most widely used neonicotinoids, can bring a ban in of its own accord. It is this move Mr Paterson is seeking to head off by persuading other member states that the evidence is not there – although 30 scientific papers have linked the substances with harm to bees in the last three years.
The UK note to all EU agriculture ministers challenges Brussels to present scientific proof based on “real-world, not theoretical” studies that pesticide poisoning is to blame. It says: “All pesticide use should be controlled so as to prevent unacceptable effects on non-target species and the environment, as well as preventing harmful effects on human health.”
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