A long-awaited pan-European trial has found that neonicotinoid pesticides harm honey bees and wild bees.
Research by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is hugely important because it’s the biggest study of these pesticides in the real world – covering a crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches.
As part of the Bee Cause campaign, Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back EU moves to permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and commit to keeping the ban post-Brexit.
A YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth revealed last year that 81% agree that an EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides which have been found to pose a threat to bees should remain, post-Brexit.
“This crucial study confirms that neonicotinoid pesticides come with a nasty sting in the tail for our under-pressure bees," says Friends of the Earth nature campaigner Sandra Bell. It’s time for a complete and permanent ban on these chemicals.
“The UK government must stop asking for yet more evidence and back tough action on these dangerous chemicals to protect our precious pollinators."
The study also reinforces concerns that bees are being exposed to neonicotinoids not just by directly foraging on the treated crop. Because these chemicals persist in the environment they can turn up in wildflowers, too, or in crops planted after or next to the treated crop.
Farmers across the UK are successfully growing crops without using neonicotinoids. Friends of the Earth’s bee-friendly shoppers’ guide to rapeseed oil highlights a number of farmers who have pledged not to use restricted neonicotinoid pesticides on rape seed oil crops – even if the current ban were to be lifted.
“These farmers are showing we can successfully grow crops without neonicotinoids, and without resorting to more pesticides. The UK government must do more to help farmers grow the crops we need without harming Britain’s bees,” says Sandra.