|European regulator backs PAN’s position on flawed bumblebee study|
Last month, just before the EC decision to restrict the use of three neonicotinoids, PAN UK and other NGOs met with Environment Minister Lord de Mauley and Defra Chief Scientist Prof. Ian Boyd in a last ditch attempt to persuade the government to back an EU wide ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. Much of the argument in the meeting centred around the competing science – especially the “real life” effect of neonics in the field. It boiled down to a battle between scientific papers - “my paper is better than yours”.
The biggest gun in Defra’s armoury was their field study of bumblebees. We argued for ages over it, with the NGOs in the room systematically identifying all of the flaws in the study and explaining clearly why it was bad science. Sadly, we weren’t able to persuade them and a few days later the UK government voted against a ban.
Yesterday, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) backed our assessment of the Defra report saying it was “not adequate to understand the effects of exposure of neonicotinoid residues on bumble bee colonies”.
It flagged up exactly the same weaknesses that we highlighted during our meeting, namely that:
EFSA also complained that:
Most damning of all, EFSA questioned how the results had been interpreted and used to justify policy positions. This suggests that results were cherry picked to justify a political decision and exposes the so called “science-based” approach to policy as a sham. The really worrying question is left unasked: Why is Defra going to such lengths to protect the continued sale of neonics when they pose such a threat to pollinators and are not needed to protect crops?
5 June 2013