The Soil Association (SA) says the Government is ‘ignoring scientific evidence’ in issuing an ‘emergency temporary authorization’ of neonicotinoids for use on this year’s sugar beet crop.
Defra says its use is to protect the yield and quality of sugar beet, which can be impacted by the spread of yellows viruses, spread by aphids.
But Gareth Morgan, head of farming policy at the SA, says the Government’s approval of these bee-harming pesticides came ‘just days after the EU banned this course of action in recognition of the harm they are proven to cause our vital pollinators – and the threat that poses to everyone’s future’.
“The Government has ignore scientific evidence and abandoned their own commitment to protect pollinators for the third year running. It is inexcusable to see England falling so far behind the EU on regulations in place to prevent such a detrimental impact on biodiversity.
“It is not credible to claim an exemption is temporary or emergency when it is used year after year. How many years will bans of these harmful chemicals be overridden? If the Government is serious about halting biodiversity loss by 2030, they must support farmers to explore long-term, agroecological solutions that do not threaten our endangered bee population or other wildlife. Neonicotinoids simply have no place in a sustainable farming system, and farmers need support and guidance to end reliance on them,” says Morgan.
The Government has acted against the advice of its own Expert Committee on Pesticides
Anabel Kindserley – co-owner of Neal’s Yard Remedies and founder of the Stand By Bees campaign – says it is ‘extremely disappointing news, given all the work we have been doing’.
“The decision marks the third year running when the Government has acted against the advice of its own Expert Committee on Pesticides, who reiterated this year that ‘the potential adverse effects to honeybees and other pollinators outweigh the likely benefits’. The UK has historically earned a reputation for strong environmental standards, but it is falling behind.
“Despite promises in the 25-Year Plan for Nature back in 2018, and repeated commitments since to take action on the impact of pesticides, the Government has still not released an updated National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides. On top of this, there are no major programmes of work underway to support farmers to adopt nature-friendly alternatives at scale.”
In a message to supporters of the Stand By Bees campaign Kindersley wrote: “At times like this, it is more important than ever to stand up for nature. We will be updating the ‘Write to MP’ letter on the Stand By Bees website. It would be great if you could share this with your networks. We must keep pushing. We cannot let this slip under the radar.”
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