16 Mar 2013

Take action for bees

As we've noted on this blog some insecticide products have been increasingly implicated in the decline of honeybees over the past decade, and there is serious concern that they pose unacceptable risk to wild bees and pollinators. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 are pollinated by bees.

Owen Paterson is ignoring the steps that France, Italy and other European countries are taking to ban these harmful pesticides. The UK government are siding with the powerful pesticide companies, and waiting for more and more tests before making a decision. But by then it it could be too late for our bees....

Just across the border, Pippa Bartolotti, Leader of the Green Party in Wales said, “Bee-keepers and petitioners are anxious to hear how the Secretary of State has not failed in his duty of care to bee protection. By failing to act swiftly, he has allowed the seed crop for this spring to be impregnated with pesticides linked to the weakening of bee colonies, thus prolonging the harm being done. This is beginning to look like negligence.”

I wonder if folk reading this could write to your MP and ask them to contact Owen Paterson as soon as possible and ask him to vote to suspend the use of the pesticides?

See also Caroline Lucas' Guardian environment blog about the EU vote last week on the pesticides affecting bees: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/mar/15/uk-government-opposition-regulation-bees-risk
In Wales Greens are lobbying David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales asking that he urgently carries out his duty under provision of the 1980 Bees Act to protect bees, as well as ensure the UK does not fall foul of European law.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales, are responsible for ensuring bees are not at risk from insecticides. The law requires that insecticides are robustly tested prior to authorisation being granted, and where risk assessment has not been finalised, surely products should be immediately withdrawn from the market?

As Pippa Bartolotti's news release said: "Research at the University of Sterling found that colonies of Buff-tailed bumblebees exposed to the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, produced 85% fewer queens than control colonies.  The success and survival of new bumblebee queens is essential to ensure the viability of future bumblebee populations. Pesticide risk assessment requires tests on very few species including the honey bee, which are meant to be representative for invertebrates as a whole.  Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides that permeate the whole plant, and residues of some neonicointoids may remain in the soil for at least 2 years. Last year, EFSA, the European Food Standards Agency, had identified significant flaws in regulatory risk assessment guidelines for testing pesticides on honey bees, and highlighted a need for consideration of wild bees within the regulatory system.   Upon further investigation of three neonicotinoids, EFSA scientists identified areas of high risk to bees from flowering crops, as well as a number of  data gaps that would have to be filled to allow further evaluation of the potential risks to bees from clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam."

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