Bee-Killing Pesticide Authorised By UK Government Will No Longer Be Used
A ‘bee-killing’ pesticide that was granted emergency authorisation earlier this year will no longer be used in the UK.
The product is banned in the EU because it contains neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, a substance harmful to bees.
The government authorised ‘limited and controlled’ use of the product in January to protect sugar beet seeds from a virus, however it found this is no longer necessary as the cold weather means there is less risk to the crop.
As per the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the emergency authorisation had a number of conditions including a strict threshold for use. Under the terms, it could be used if at at least 9% of all sugar beet crop in 2021 was at risk of the virus.
‘Due to the recent cold weather, the threshold for use was not met and so treatment will not be used on this year’s seed,’ DEFRA said in a statement.
‘Authorisation was granted with strict conditions including only allowing application if the weather conditions over the winter led to a problem with aphids. In the event, that pest threshold was not passed so this seed treatment will not be used this year,’ Environment Secretary George Eustice said.
In 2018, the EU voted in a near-total ban on the pesticide, which has been linked to a decline in honeybees and other wild bees.
The latest announcement has been welcomed by environmental groups who had previously criticised the emergency-use authorisation.
In a statement earlier this week, The Wildlife Trusts said the decision was good news but it does not halt the risk to wildlife in future years.
‘The Wildlife Trusts are delighted that the Government will not be granting an emergency authorisation for the use of a banned neonicotinoid on sugar beet this year,’ it said.
The organisation said it believes the decision to grant emergency authorisation was ‘flawed and legally unsustainable’.
‘The fact that the virus threshold was not met this year after an uncharacteristically cold January and February does not ensure that neonicotinoids will not be applied to treat sugar beet seeds in future seasons, and have devastating impacts on UK wildlife,’ it added.
Joan Edwards, the director of policy at The Wildlife Trusts, said the rules would have allowed the use of a highly damaging chemical over a large geographical area.
‘The weather conditions for the aphids could, potentially, have been very different across these areas and vary from farm to farm. This means the chemical could have ended up being used in places where it was not needed – this is not limited use,’ Edwards said.
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