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Bee-harming Pesticides

Oct 5

Written by:
05/10/2017 12:28  RssIcon

Pressure mounts for tougher action 


Bees are vital for our well-being. They pollinate much of the food that makes our diets healthy and tasty – from the apple in our lunchbox, to the tomatoes on our pizza.

However, Britain’s bees are in trouble. 35 UK bee species are at risk of extinction, and all species face serious threats. Right now, they need us almost as much as we need them.


Image: Bee


One of the threats they face is from pesticides. In 2013 three neonicotinoid pesticides were restricted from being used on flowering crops attractive to bees – such as oil seed rape - after it was revealed that they posed a threat to these vital pollinators.

But pressure for an even tighter ban on bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides is growing fast.

Despite the ban, neonicotinoid-treated seeds are still widely used on crops not pollinated by bees including wheat.

Now the European Commission is pushing for a total ban after new research found that when neonicotinoids are used on crops such as wheat they can entering the soil and water, ending up in wild flowers or flowering crops - thus posing an additional threat to bees.


Image: FOE Bee Campaign 


The public are supportive of tougher measures. A YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth, published on 2 October show that over three quarters of the adult population (76%) think the UK government should support EU proposals to extend current restrictions on bee-harming pesticides to all crops.

Members of the European Union, including the UK, are expected to vote on the proposals in the coming weeks – and it’s hoped that environment secretary Michael Gove, who has made encouraging noises about the need to protect our bees, will back the ban.

Fears that yields of oilseed rape would fall without these pesticides have proved to be unfounded – with above average crop yields expected this year. Furthermore, many farmers are already successfully growing wheat – one of the main crops that would be covered by the extended ban - without neonicotinoids.

VIDEO: conventional farmers are successfully farming without neonicotinoids. Here’s a video featuring two of them:



Garden centres have also been acting against neonicotinoids too.

Research earlier this year found that the restricted pesticides had been used to grow garden plants – including plants advertised as being good for bees.

However, after being contacted by Friends of the Earth, nine of the leading ten garden centres have made it clear that they don’t want them to be used to grow the plants they sell – and have told suppliers not to use them.

Of course pesticides are not the only threat our bees face. There is also pressure from habitat loss, intensive farming, disease and climate change.

This is why Friends of the Earth is urging people to take action to help our bees – such as planting bee-friendly gardens and other spaces. If you want to help why not get hold of our bee-saver kit.

Bees are fantastic creatures, with the UK home to over 250 species. Every year we run the Great British Bee Count (19 May-30 June) which uses an app to help people find out more about Britain’s bees and how they can help them. It’s not only fun and easy to use – it’s free too.

Bees are vital for pollinating our crops and gardens. We must do more to tackle the plight of the humble bee.

Find out more about Friends of the Earth bees campaign










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