Neonicotinoids Named a Threat to Bees

bees and pesticides

In the face of rapidly declining bee populations, both B&Q and Wickes have pledged to stop stocking products containing neonicotinoids, a form of insecticide which has been long suspected of contributing to colony collapse disorder in bees.

This month The European Food Safety Authority have named colthianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam as posing a grave threat to bees in the wake of lengthy campaigns against their use from various environmental groups.

The controversial insecticides are designed to stay within the plants they are applied to as a means of preventing chemical ‘run off’ and its associated problems. However, as a result, the chemicals remain present in the plant, as well as its pollen and nectar, once it flowers. When bees come into contact with neonicotinoids studies have suggested their ability to navigate becomes severely impaired.

New evidence is now under urgent review by the government’s advisory committee for pesticides and there is a possibility that the regulations on the use of neonicotinoids may be changed. Representatives of Bayer, the manufacturer of the products in question, will now come before parliament to answer questions from the committee.

Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said:

We are delighted [B&Q and Wickes] are withdrawing these pesticides. Other retailers must follow suit and take action to protect our bees. The spotlight now falls on the UK government. Ministers must help safeguard our bees by immediately suspending the three pesticides identified by European food safety scientists, and ensuring farmers have safe alternatives. Declining bee numbers are a real threat to food production.

EFSA have sounded the death knell for one of the chemicals most frequently linked to bee decline and cast serious doubt over the safety of the whole neonicotinoid family. Ministers must wake up to the fact that these chemicals come with an enormous sting in the tail by immediately suspending the use of these pesticides.

Bayer’s Julian Little responded to the news saying:

We do not believe the new EFSA reports alter the quality and validity of [current] risk assessments and the underlying studies. The company is ready to work with the European commission and member states to address the perceived data gaps. We believe it is very important that any political decision relating to registrations of neonicotinoid-containing products should be based on clear scientific evidence of adverse effects … and not on the basis of an over-interpretation of the precautionary principle.

Green Steve’s Reaction

I hope this governmental review reaches its conclusions quickly after examining all of the evidence. If our bee populations really are suffering because of neonicotinoids then they must be banned immediately because bees bring in such vast value to the UK economy that we’d suffer greatly if further population decline occurs.

In a broader context, I hope that this story highlights the value that we get from nature’s services, all of which are freely given but too often abused.

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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