UK Government To Let Farmers Use Bee-Killing Pesticide Banned In EU
The UK government has granted farmers permission to use a ‘bee-killing’ pesticide banned in the EU.
A product containing neonicotinoid thiamethoxam has been given a ‘limited and controlled’ emergency authorisation for treatment of sugar beet seed in 2021, in a bid to protect the crops from a virus.
The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) explained: ‘Sugar beet yields were significantly reduced in the 2020 season due to the incidence of virus, and similar conditions in 2021 would be likely to present similar dangers.’
However, wildlife campaigners have slammed the move, warning that the ‘highly damaging pesticide’ would cause clear harm to bees and other pollinators, coming when a third of the UK’s bee population is estimated to have vanished over the past decade, with at least 50 per cent of the world’s insects said to have been lost since 1970.
The Wildlife Trusts wrote in a Twitter thread: ‘Neonicotinoids pose a significant environmental risk – particularly to our bees and other pollinators – and over the last decade hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have called for better protection of our bees, and for these highly toxic pesticides to be banned.’
It added: ‘We need urgent action to restore the abundance of our insect populations, not broken promises that make the ecological crisis even worse.’
The government approval comes following a request from British Sugar and the National Farmers Union, with the sugar board chairman Michael Sly urging, as per The Independent: ‘Virus yellows disease is having an unprecedented impact on Britain’s sugar beet crop… it will be crucial in ensuring that Britain’s sugar beet growers continue to have viable farm businesses.’
However, despite DEFRA’s assurances the rollout of the pesticide will be ‘strictly limited to a non-flowering crop and will be tightly controlled to minimise any potential risk to pollinators’, activists believe it poses a significant environmental risk, hence its earlier ban by the EU.
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