31 JUL 2015

Bees and Pesticides

It's well known bees, and other pollinators, play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. It's very positive the Government has done much over the last few years to understand and protect them - most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy.

The Strategy lays out plans to improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators in agriculture and our natural habitats. It includes measures to conserve and create good quality wild flower meadows and minimise risks from pesticides. Organisations such as Network Rail, Highways Agency and the National Trust have also agreed to use road verges, rail embankments and forest areas to create bee and insect-friendly habitats.

Decisions on the approval of suitable pesticides are made at the European level. Since December 2013, three of the five currently approved neonicotinoids are not permitted for use on a wide range of crops considered "attractive to bees". A number of other uses remain permitted. These restrictions are not time-limited, and will remain in place until and unless the European Commission decides to change them.

I'm pleased the Commission has begun a review of the science relating to neonicotinoids and bees. This will include looking at the effects on bees caused by seed treatments and uses of the restricted neonicotinoids in the form of granules on any crop. The British Government will contribute fully to this review. Our own strategy on future regulation of neonicotinoids will be based on all the available scientific evidence.

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