Pesticide that kills bees ‘must be banned’

 

A A A

The Government has been accused of failing to act on increasing evidence of the environmental damage done by "nerve-agent" pesticides, after France banned a pesticide product still widely in use by British farmers on their crops.

[ See letter, 8 August 2009 ]

Cruiser OSR, which contains the neo-nicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, was banned for use on rapeseed by the French Ministry of Agriculture. Two studies, published earlier this year, have strongly suggested a link between the increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides and global declines in the populations of pollinating insects, including bees, which play a vital role in agriculture and international food security.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is investigating the evidence in the separate studies – one by British scientists from the University of Stirling and the second by France's National Institute of Agronomic Research.

However, Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, said that Defra was guilty of "stalling" in the face of mounting evidence of the pesticides' harmful impact.

"The welcome decision by the French Government to ban the Cruiser OSR pesticide following definitive research exposing the risk to bee colonies from neonicotinoids clearly emphasises our own government's shocking failure to act on this threat," Ms Lucas said. "The department must now stop stalling and bring in an outright ban on both lethal and non-lethal doses of neonicotinoids before irreparable damage is done to our ecosystem."

Bee decline is a serious threat to global agriculture because of the insects' vital role in pollination. Both bumble bee and honey bee populations have declined dramatically in recent decades. Although precise figures for insect populations are difficult to project, a UN report said last year that the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder – the disappearance of worker bees – had become a global problem.

Neonicotonoid pesticides, which are used on 30 per cent of British cropland, disrupt the nervous systems of pest insects such as aphids but also affect non-target species such as bees. Large doses can kill bees, but the French study, backed by France's food safety agency Anses, showed that exposure to non-lethal amounts affects bees' homing ability, putting colonies at risk of collapse.

A Defra spokesperson said the UK had a "robust" pesticide safety policy. "We are assessing recent studies on neonicotinoids and will report our findings very shortly," the spokeswoman said. "The UK has a robust system for testing and reviewing pesticide use and if the evidence shows the need for action, we will not hesitate to act."

Syngenta, the company that manufactures Cruiser OSR, called the French ban "a dark day for French and European agriculture". It claimed that 30 per cent of oilseed rape crops in France would be lost and that the ban had been decided "on the basis of one experimental study which has not been validated by expert panels".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea