BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 24 July '15

Government allows farmers to use ‘banned’ pesticide

The government has agreed to allow farmers to plant oilseed rape seeds treated with currently banned neonicotinoid pesticides this autumn.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) secured the emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments for 5% of the oilseed rape crop in England, amounting to around 30,000ha, for protection against cabbage stem flea beetle.

Danger to bees

Neonicotinoids – the world’s most widely used insecticides – have been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and there’s substantial evidence to show that they cause serious harm to bees.

Neonicotinoid seed treatments were stopped under the twoyear moratorium imposed by the EU Commission in 2013, and the NFU claims that oil seed rape has suffered badly from flea beetle ever since.

Since 2006, there have been significant losses of honey bee colonies. Scientists, policymakers, farmers, and beekeepers are all on alert as bees are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of all crops worldwide.

‘It’s scandalous that the government has caved in to NFU pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.
 
‘Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees and other pollinators – they should have no place in our fields and gardens.’

Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth bees campaigner

Unsupported claims

The NFU applied for the ban on two neonicotinoids to be lifted for emergency use, saying that oil seed rape is becoming impossible to grow without them.

Access to emergency use of neonicotinoids Modesto (Bayer) and Cruiser OSR (Syngenta) has been granted for 120 days.

‘The NFU’s campaign to undermine the pesticides ban has given an impression of large crop losses nationwide, but this is not supported either by the scientific evidence or harvest figures.’
 
Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth bees campaigner

Lack of transparency

Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU, said that he was ‘glad’ about the decision, but added that it wasn’t enough.

‘Flea beetle threat is widespread problem on a national scale and the extremely limited nature of this authorisation is unfortunately not going to help the vast majority of farmers in need of the protection.’

Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU

He said that the NFU had worked relentlessly to submit a robust application, but Friends of the Earth campaigner Paul de Zylva says there has been a lack of transparency around the application.

‘It’s completely unacceptable for the Government to refuse to make the NFU’s application publicly available – and it even asked its own independent advisors not to publish the minutes and agenda of key meetings.
 
‘The secrecy around this application will only fuel the public’s mistrust of Government policy on pesticides.’

Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth bees campaigner