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.
Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Killer plants: A handy guide to the hidden dangers in your garden
Green movement must escape its 'white, middle-class ghetto', says Friends of the Earth chief Craig Bennett
The 10 best folding bikes
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Auto centre is based in We...
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...