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The Soil Association has criticised Hilary Benn's decision not to ban pesticides believed to damage honey bees' neurological and immune systems while millions are invested in trying to halt honey bee decline.
The association said that Benn, the UK's Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), had in a letter rejected its calls to prohibit use of a group of pesticides (Neonicotinoids) which have already been withdrawn in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.It comes as Defra this week announced a boost to funding to try and identify the main threats to bees and other insect pollinators - bringing investment up to £10m. This followed the unveiling in March of Defra's new ten-year plan to protect pollinators.- Advertisement -
The number of bees in the UK has fallen between 10 and 15 per cent over the last two years and the loss of bee populations globally is causing considerable concern for food security.
This is because they play a fundamental role in pollinating many plants and crops that we rely on for food.
Peter Melchett, SA policy director said: "While new funding and new research are welcome, it will not help if the Government ignores existing scientific evidence that has led other countries to ban chemicals known to kill bees.
"The Government prefers to blame 'very wet weather' and poor management by 'less experienced beekeepers' than to face their own responsibility to control bee-killing chemicals that have been used on up to 1.5 million acres of farmland in the UK." Click here to read full news item.
"[A]ll the teams of independent French scientists found that imidacloprid was toxic to honeybees in extremely tiny concentrations, down to single digit parts per billion (ppb). In fact the data from the manufacturer [Bayer] has been revised downward in just over two years so that they no longer claim that the NOEC (no observed effects concentration) is 5000 ppb, which is what they claimed at the time this insecticide was registered in Canada for potatoes, but now say it is 4 ppb....
"Couple that with the report's conclusion that imidacloprid shows significant translocation ... by water during the growing season when applied foliarly, and after the growing season when applied in furrow, and you have the reasons why this insecticide is so dangerous to bees. Bees do not visit potato flowers for either nectar or pollen. But imidacloprid is washing into the ditches and being expressed in the nectar and pollen of the goldenrod and clover there. It is also carrying over and being expressed in the crops and weeds in the years following potatoes. That is quite well known by the company. If you look at the label, you will see that they do not recommend treatments of the same field in successive years for just that reason." (emphasis added)
"Mutagenic Effects: Imidacloprid may be weakly mutagenic. In a battery of 23 laboratory mutagenicity assays, imidacloprid tested negative for mutagenic effects in all but two of the assays. It did test positive for causing changes in chromosomes in human lymphocytes, as well as testing positive for genotoxicity in Chinese hamster ovary cells."
"It looks like we need to ban Imidacloprid, made by Bayer, just as DDT was banned. Imidacloprid was banned in France in 2000, it is present in the nectar, lasts for years in the soil, and as little as 1.5 parts per BILLION cause the bees to lose their ability to forage!"