BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 30 Apr '18

Decision by EU member states is a ‘major victory for science, common sense and our under-threat bees’, says Friends of the Earth

On Friday (27 April) the EU, including the UK, backed a permanent ban on the outdoor use of three bee-harming pesticides.

The move follows mounting scientific evidence of the threat these pesticides pose to our bees and other wildlife. Earlier this year (28 February), a major assessment of the latest science by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees.

Pesticides found in honey – Friends of the Earth has called for a ‘complete and permanent ban’ on neonicotinoids

A victory for bees

Emi Murphy is a bee campaigner at Friends of the Earth, which has been campaigning for tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids for a number of years.

Ems said, ‘This a major victory for science, common sense and our under-threat bees. The evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a threat to our bees is overwhelming.

‘It’s great news that Michael Gove listened to the experts and backed the ban – he must now give farmers the support they need to grow food without bee-harming pesticides.

Farming without neonicotinoids

Farmers across the UK are already successfully growing crops without neonicotinoid chemicals.

Peter Lundgren is an arable farmer in Lincolnshire who hasn’t used neonicotinoids for around eight years. He said, ‘Bees are crucial for farming, which is why I support a tougher ban on these chemicals. I haven’t used neonicotinoids for years – and I haven’t seen a reduction in my crop yields due to pest damage.’

‘I would urge Michael Gove to increase investment into economically viable and safer alternative pest control methods.’

PETER LUNDGREN
Arable farmer in Lincolnshire

Campaigns behind the ban

Friends of the Earth Bee Cause campaign was launched in 2012 to reverse bee decline across the UK. In 2013, the government agreed to implement a National Pollinator Strategy following successful campaigning by Friends of the Earth.

‘Neonicotinoids are not the only threat bees face – ministers must urgently step up efforts to boost nature, protect wildlife-friendly habitats and tackle overreliance on pesticides in their post-Brexit farming policy.’

Emi Murphy
Bee campaigner at Friends of the Earth

Last year, Friends of the Earth encouraged the top 10 leading garden centres to commit to stop selling plants grown with bee-harming neonicotinoids (more here), and helped persuade Michael Gove to back tougher restrictions on neonicotinoids.

The decision to ban neonicotinoids comes ahead of the Great British Bee Count, which is taking place again next month (17 May-30 June).