Update to BBKA Statement on Neonicotinoid Pesticides – 9th November 2017


This statement provides an update on the position of the British Beekeepers Association in relation to the EU ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides released on 30th June 2017. This update follows a statement from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 9th November 2017. 

BBKA Comments

The BBKA has maintained that the policy of both the UK and the EU should be led by sound science. It is encouraged to note that Mr Gove’s comments are based on the updated advice of the UK’s Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) which has been released today.

They have concluded that:

• Exposure to neonicotinoids under field conditions can have an unacceptable effect on honeybee health.

• Such unacceptable effects are occurring at a landscape level and between seasons.

• These neonicotinoid pesticides are relatively persistent in the environment and can occur in non-target plants foraged by bees.

• Wild bees (bumblebees and solitary bees) are negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoid residues from across the landscape.

Our position

The position of the BBKA has, and continues to be ‘That, until there is convincing independent scientific evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are not harmful to honey bees, the BBKA will support the continuation of the EU moratorium on their use’. The advice to ministers indicates that Neonicotinoid pesticides are causing harm to both pollinators in general, honeybees in particular and equally importantly the overall environment. This means that the BBKA will support the continuation of the moratorium on their use and would support an overall banning of their use. The UK government position which will feed into the European discussion is likely to have a significant impact as they were one of the few voices arguing against the moratorium originally, making it more likely that EU wide ban will be extended or made permanent.


The BBKA was pleased to be involved in discussions across a wide range of farming related sectors about how the regulatory regime would evolve as the UK leaves the EU. We were encouraged that the government is thinking about the importance of pollinators in general and honeybees in particular in the context of Brexit. Equally we are pleased that the government is offering to work with farmers to develop an alternative approach to treating crops. We remain concerned however that any alternative treatments used do not cause harm to honeybees and other pollinators

We will continue to update both our members and the public as the current debate evolves.

Martin Smith Director of Communications

[email protected]

9th November 2017