Rachel Carson would be horrified – our bees and insect-eating birds become scarcer year by year and there is overwhelming evidence pointing to neonicotinoid pesticides as a major cause, but the UK government's “Advisory Committee on Pesticides” has decided not to ban them, unlike some other countries (Michael McCarthy, 7 September).
Only the agrochemical industry will rejoice. For the rest of us, food will become more costly as we lose crop pollinators and the sound and soul of our summer countryside withers and is silenced. Government should be ashamed, and there is no point paying farmers to plant “bee banks” and “nectar borders” if you then spray the bees to death.
Farmers who care, councils, schools, landowners and gardeners can at least do one thing – introduce their own voluntary bans on these CFCs in the countryside.
C I Rose
The recommendation of Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) and the Advisory Committee on Insecticides is deeply disappointing.The scientists concerned seem to have ignored the internationally accepted Precautionary Principle agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 which states: “Where there are threats of serious loss or lasting damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” One wonders how much lobbying there has been by the vested interests concerned.
Rodmell, East Sussex
Michael McCarthy highlights the fact that 20 per cent of the world's invertebrate species may be heading for extinction (Nature, 31 August). In fact species under threat of extinction are merely the tip of a large iceberg represented by severe declines in invertebrate populations and in biodiversity in general, brought about largely by modern intensive agriculture.
It is popular to blame farmers in general for these problems, and some criticism is justified in individual cases. However, most farmers grew up and learned their agriculture at a time when increasing food production was the only requirement. It is only quite recently that wildlife conservation has figured at all in courses available at agricultural colleges.
The general culture among very many farmers is that wildlife conservation is a luxury they cannot afford, even with payments available under agri-environment schemes. And worse, many have developed a defensive antipathy towards conservation and conservationists through the criticism that has been levelled at them for the consequences of, as they see it, doing only what has been asked of them, using methods that they have been encouraged to adopt throughout their lives.
Somehow we need both to devise better approaches to integrating wildlife conservation into productive agricultural landscapes and to foster a change in culture among the farming community.
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