Government to ignore European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides

 

A A A

The British Government is completely free to ignore recommendations from European safety regulators that controversial nerve-agent pesticides should not be used on crops visited by bees, MPs were told.

Herman Fontier, head of the pesticides division of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), told a Parliamentary committee that his organisation’s recommendation two weeks ago that neonicotinoid pesticides, widely blamed for bee declines around the world, should be kept away from bees, was merely a risk assessment – and it was up to individual EU member states whether or not to act on it.

In Britain the Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, has already indicated that the Government is likely to ignore the recommendation and is opposed to an immediate ban on three neonicotinoids highlighted by the EFSA report, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, made by the giant agribusiness companies Bayer and Syngenta.

Mr Patterson’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is carrying out its own research into neonicotinoids and bees.

The EFSA report, which came after more than 30 scientific papers implicating the chemicals in damage to bees and bee colonies, said that they “pose a number of risks to bee health”.

But asked by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, at a hearing of the Environment Audit Committee, whether or not EFSA could take the recommendation any further, Mr Fontier said they could not. His organisation dealt only with risk assessment, not with risk management, he said.

“A lot of scientific rigour has gone into your conclusion that these chemicals should only be used on crops not attractive to bees, and that’s a fairly catergorical statement,” Ms Lucas said. “But if a member state decides to do something completely different, do you just have to say, ‘fine, there’s nothing we can do’?”

“There’s nothing, really nothing more we can do,” Mr Fontier said.

Informed by the Tory MP Caroline Nokes that Bayer had told the committee last week that the EFSA risk assessment had not taken into account all the available research. Mr Fontier replied: “The allegation leaves ne a little puzzled. They [Bayer] submitted the data package, which we have evaluated, from the first to the last study.”

Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the Soil Association, the organic food and farming body, said: “The real danger is that the UK Government will simply ignore this overwhelming scientific evidence of the damage these chemicals are doing to honeybees.

“EFSA has confirmed that despite having really clear scientific evidence against three of these chemicals in oilseed rape and maize and so on, it is open to the Government simply to ignore the science.

“As far as we know at the moment, Owen Patterson is going to do that – and that can’t be right.”

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
tv
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis