Big news! Research led the environment secretary to overturn the government’s previous opposition, meaning a total EU ban is highly probable.
The Guardian reported:
The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees. It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.
Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide but in 2013 the European Union banned their use on flowering crops, although the UK was among the nations opposing the ban. The European commission now wants a total ban on their use outside of greenhouses, with a vote expected in December, and the UK’s new position makes it very likely to pass.
The UK’s Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP), which recently published its updated advice, said:
Exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides under field conditions can have an unacceptable effect on honeybee health.
Such unacceptable effects are occurring at a landscape level and between seasons.
To Grove, the bigger picture of a ban actually makes economical sense – he notes that farmers are now paying £5.7m a year to do replace the work of lost natural pollinators. Pollinators boost the yield and quality of UK crops by £400m-£680m every year.
Professor Ian Boyd, chief scientific advisor at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that at this time there is enough evidence that justifies taking further steps to restrict the use of neonicotinoids.
A bevy of scrutinizing reports on pesticides have rocked Europe including those that showed global honey supplies were contaminated by bee-harming insecticides; a report showing that farmers could slash pesticide use without major losses; and that neonics damage bee populations, not just individual insects. Furthermore, reports of the harmful effects of neonicotinoids have snowballed since 2013.
Boyd warned in September that the assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false. This followed other highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses and a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.
Gove concluded: “While there is still uncertainty in the science, it is increasingly pointing in one direction.”
He suggested that a post-Brexit farming subsidy system could channel more funds into farming more responsibly.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.