> Environmental Groups Call for Extension of Neonicotinoid Pesticides Ban - The Food Safety Company Environmental Groups Call for Extension of Neonicotinoid Pesticides Ban - The Food Safety Company
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    Thursday, 1 December 2016

    Environmental Groups Call for Extension of Neonicotinoid Pesticides Ban


    On December 1st 2013, the European Commission made the decision to ban the use of three specific neonicotinoid pesticides, often known as ‘neonics’ , on any and all flowering crops. In 2017, marking three years since the ban was implemented, sixteen wildlife, conservation, and environmental groups have written an open letter to the government, calling for the ban to be not only upheld, but extended even further.

    The 16 groups involved, which include many well-known organisations including Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Greenpeace UK, and The Wildlife Trusts, are calling on the government to extend the ban to all crops, stating that “this is essential to reverse the decline of bees and other pollinators.”

    The letter focuses primarily on the plight of pollinators, but doesn’t shy away from commenting on the wider environmental ramifications of neonicotinoid use, as evidenced below:

    “Since 2013 many more independent laboratory and field studies have found neonics impairing the ability of different bee species to feed, navigate and reproduce resulting in declining populations.

    “There is now solid evidence of harm from neonics to wild bumble and solitary bees which are even more sensitive to these pesticides than honeybees. Evidence has also grown of neonics harming the wider environment with studies indicating a link to butterfly population decline, identifying risks to bird species and finding neonics accumulating to dangerous levels in wildflowers surrounding crops.”

    It is the accumulation referred to here that is motivating Dr Christopher Connolly, Reader in Neurobiology at the University of Dundee, to seek an extension of the ban to cover all crops, not just flowering varieties. He notes the persistence of these chemicals, and speaks of how they can crop up (no pun intended) in not only the treated crop, but also in the pollen or nectar of plants grown subsequently on the same plot. His recommendation is straight forward, and falls in line with the demands of environmental groups; “To prevent bees being exposed in this way the restrictions need to be extended to other crops including wheat where neonics are still widely used.”

    However, not all those involved are in support of the ban, with industry organisations such as the NFU and HTA opposing the ban on the grounds of ‘insufficient research’.

    NFU horticulture chief adviser Dr Chris Hartfield said, “The fact is the evidence is not clear on the issue of bees and neonicotinoids ‘there still remain major gaps in our understanding’ and ‘there is still a limited evidence base to guide policymakers on how pollinator populations will be affected by neonicotinoid use’. These aren’t my words. These are statements made in an independent study reviewing all the current evidence around neonicotinoids and pollinators.”

    Maybe the subject does require a little more research, but with several bee species recently gaining the ‘endangered’ tag, we can’t really afford to take chances. Irritating as they may be from time to time, bees and other pollinators are crucial to our own survival. We must take care to protect the populations, and as such I find myself in support of this ban, and the proposed extension.


    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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