UK government trying to delay European Commission proposals to save our pollinators from bee-killing insecticides

Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is questioning why Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to delay the European Commission’s proposed restrictions on three neonicotinoid insecticides in an EU vote on the 15th March.

UK, 12th March 2013 : Later this week, the European Commission will put forward a paper to all member states in the European Union which will call for a significant ban on neonicotinoids – Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam. These insecticides were identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as a high risk to honeybees and an unknown risk to other wild pollinators such as bumblebees, hoverflies and moths.

These suggested changes in legislation are a step in the right direction, although not a complete solution as neonic use will still be permitted on certain crops. Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP said: “I welcome the conclusion drawn by EFSA. They conclude that for such pesticides, use on crops attractive to honeybees (such as corn and oilseed rape) were not considered ‘acceptable’ due to exposure through nectar and pollen”.

However the proposals have been met with resistance, especially from Owen Paterson, who is keen to delay the proposals. At this year’s National Farmers Union conference, Paterson said ‘I have asked the Commission to consider all the evidence and to wait for the results of our field trials’. However, Defra’s own chief scientist, Professor Ian Boyd told the Environmental Audit Committee the very same day that these field trials had been compromised as all the bees were contaminated with neonicotinoids.

The proposals have also gained support from other politicians. The Right Honourable John Gummer (Lord Deben), former Secretary of State for the Environment said “If ever there were an issue where the precautionary principle ought to guide our actions, it is in the use of neonicotinoids. Bees are too important to our crops to continue to take this risk”.

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