PAN UK and 13 other organisations call on DEFRA Minister to suspend use of neonicotinoids PDF Print E-mail

Defra signFollowing the recent publication of new research on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees and other pollinator species PAN UK and 13 other UK based organisations have sent an open letter to DEFRA Minister Caroline Spelman asking for the immedeate suspension of use of neonicotinoids as a precautionary measure.


To read the letter signed by; PAN UK, Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, CHEM Trust, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Earth Open Source, Bee Guardian Foundation, Garden Organic, Capital Bee Campaign, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Small Blue Marble and Biodynamic Agriculture Association please click read more.


The Right Honourable Caroline Spelman

Secretary of State for the Environment

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Noble House


SW1P 3JR                                                                                                      27th April 2012



 Re: Evidence of harm to bees from neonicotinoid pesticides

Dear Secretary of State,

Bees and other pollinators of essential food crops are suffering catastrophic declines worldwide with huge implications for our ability to feed ourselves. Recent British, French and US studies present clear evidence that pesticides have the potential to harm honey and bumble bees and other key pollinator species in numerous ways.


The new evidence can no longer be ignored and we call on you to immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in gardens and on farms as a precautionary approach while your Chief Scientist conducts a thorough independent check of all possible routes of exposure to these toxic chemicals and their impact on bees and pollinators. At the same time the Government must help our farmers to find safer alternatives and shift subsidies to reward farming methods that help to cut the use of all chemicals in our countryside, such as organic farming.


Germany, France and Italy have already restricted use of certain neonicotinoids. In Italy, the evidence is that bee populations have begun to recover since the ban. So far the UK Government has refused to take this evidence seriously by acting to protect all British bees.



The companies making millions from these chemicals point to their own secret laboratory tests as evidence that their pesticides are not behind bee declines. The same companies say that laboratory tests are not relevant to field conditions. This new independent evidence - based on field tests – raises serious questions about the validity of these claims.



Bees are under intense stress from all angles. Now there is growing evidence that pesticides are contributing to these declines. Commenting on the new studies leading US expert, Dr Jeffrey Pettis, has firmed up his opinion saying, “Three or four years ago, I was more cautious about how much pesticides were contributing to the problem (of bee health and decline). Now more and more evidence points to pesticides being a consistent part of the problem."


All of the other pressures on bees – such as the disease in hives and loss of wildflowers and hedges in the countryside –need to be addressed too, but the Government can demonstrate a commitment to helping bees right now by acting quickly to remove these pesticides from use. 


Your Government has recognised that the pollination services that bees provide are worth £430million to the UK each year and honey bees are essential for the production of 80 million tonnes of food in Europe every year – that is approximately 160kg of food for every European citizen. New research for Friends of the Earth by the University of Reading has found that it would cost at least £1.8 billion a year to replace the services of bees and other pollinators with hand pollination.


We are calling on you to suspend the use of neonicotinoids until comprehensive independent reviews have proven beyond doubt that they play no role in the catastrophic declines of the pollinators we depend on for a stable economy, secure food and farming and rich natural environment.

Yours faithfully,
Dr. Keith Tyrell

Director, Pesticide Action Network UK


Elizabeth Salter Green

Director, CHEM Trust


Heidi Herrmann

Trustee, Natural Beekeeping Trust


Claire Robinson

Earth Open Source


Jessie Jowers

Director, Bee Guardian Foundation


Myles Bremner

Chief Executive, Garden Organic


Mikey Tomkins

Co-ordinator, Capital Bee Campaign


James Thornton

CEO, Client Earth



Juliette Williams


Programme Director, Environmental Justice Foundation


Kate Canning

Director, Small Blue Marble


Andy Atkins

Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth


Peter Melchett

Policy Director, Soil Association


Peter Brown

Chairman, Biodynamic Agricultural Association


John Sauven

Director, Greenpeace UK


sorry. Thanks, but this is a charity site and upgrading from 1.5 is not going to be straightforward when they have no web dev budget, have a heart!