|The final nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids?|
More evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to large scale bee declines has been published adding more weight to PAN UK's call for a permanent ban on the use of all neonicotinoids in the UK.
The results are shocking. The analysis estimates that neonicotinoid exposure alone is responsible for greater than 20% of local population losses for five species of wild bees, and greater than 10% for 24 species – in other words, a more than 10% decline in distribution for 40% of England’s wild bee species. The report is also clear that the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on oil seed rape (OSR) crops are the source of the problem. Whilst many in the pro-neonicotinoid camp have argued that OSR crops provide excellent forage for bees this report suggests that it is actually a poisoned chalice. The report shows that bees feeding on OSR crops declined more as a result of their exposure to neonicotinoids than didn’t, thus negating any positive benefit they might have gained from feeding on OSR.
As PAN UK has long maintained, and the report confirms, bee declines are not being driven solely by the use of pesticides and there are other factors including habitat loss involved. However, it does highlight the significant contribution that the use of neonicotinoids is having on serious population declines.
While evidence ofthe harm caused by neonicotinoids is mounting, the evidence of advantages of their use is hard to find. We have seen no devastating yield losses in the UK OSR crop since the EU introduced a ban on the use of three neonicotinoids in 2014. And in fact there has been no increase in OSR yields since the adoption and widespread use of neonicotinoids began in 2002. It begs the question why are we using them at all?
This is an important report that cannot, and should not, be overlooked. It adds considerable weight to the evidence against neonicotinoids. The new Defra Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, must pay attention to the science and not cave in to the vested interests in the NFU and pesticides lobby.
Likewise, PAN UK is confident that this report will have a big impact at the EU level when it comes time to make a decision on the current ban on some neonicotinoids. PAN UKcontinues to call for a complete ban on the use of all neonicotinoids. These pernicious chemicals have no place in a modern, sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural system that the UK should be working toward.