RSPB demands ban on deadly pesticides linked to bee decline
Risk from neonicotinoids is 'not acceptable' and EU must limit use to winter crops, says charity
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.
Thursday 21 February 2013
Controversial nerve-agent pesticides widely linked to decline in bees around the world should be banned, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says today.
Neonicotinoids should no longer be used on crops which attract bees and other pollinating insects, the RSPB says, in a call for the Government to support a proposed EU ban on the three most common neonicotinoid substances.
The intervention of the million-member society comes after a mounting tide of evidence indicating linkages between the use of the chemicals, made by the agribusiness giants Bayer and Syngenta, and collapses in colonies of honey bees and bumblebees.
More than 30 separate scientific studies in the last three years have shown adverse effects on insects from neonicotinoids, which are "systemic" insecticides, meaning they enter every part of the target plants – including the pollen and nectar which bees harvest. In January, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion recommending that the three main substances – imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam – should not be used on crops attractive to bees. RSPB agricultural policy officer Ellie Crane said yesterday: "We've been reviewing the science for a long time, and scientists are telling us that neonicotinoids might be killing bees.
"Everyone is basically coming to the same conclusion: there's a real and present danger on crops that are attracting bees because these substances are present in the pollen and the nectar. We have come to the conclusion that the risk is not acceptable." The call, formally made today on the blog of the RSPB Conservation Director, Martin Harper, will put significant pressure on the Government to go along with a recommendation from the European Commission, following the EFSA report, that the chemicals should indeed be withdrawn.
So far, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has refused to consider suspending or banning the substances, because it believes that there is no "unequivocal evidence" that they are causing harm.
Defra has now commissioned its own research into the impact of neonicotinoids on bees and the Department is waiting for the results of field studies being carried out by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). These will be assessed by the Government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides, and on that basis, a decision will be taken about whether to support a ban.
The key vote will be in a Brussels meeting of the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, to consider a draft regulation from the European Commission. This would restrict use of the three neonicotinoids to winter cereals and other crops that are not attractive to bees.
No more environmental xenophobia: British wildlife has a taste for the exotic and can thrive on non-native plant species
Drug that wipes out vultures may cause an EU eco-disaster
The 10 best folding bikes
Not so Lonesome George: Researchers find 17 other tortoises in the Galapagos Islands similar to famous centenarian reptile
10 best hiking boots
- 1 Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Graceless reaction of Jose Mourinho a sad effort to hide his own flaws
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
Ukraine crisis: Helicopter gunships take country closer to all-out war
£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...