Monday 17 January 2022

The government has ignored the advice of its scientific advisors and allowed sugar beet farmers to use a banned bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticide in 2022. 

British Sugar applied for the exemption to use the banned pesticide, known as Cruiser SB or Thiamethoxam, because they are predicting high levels of virus yellows which is carried by aphids. 

The decision by environment secretary, George Eustice, was made despite the Health and Safety Executive and the government’s own expert Committee on Pesticides concluding that the requirements for an emergency authorisation had not been met and that pollution from the Thiamethoxam pesticide would damage river life. 

Anne Rowberry, newly elected President of the BBKA said: “This decision shows little concern for our bees and other pollinators. The treatment will not just kill our bees now, but will affect them and the environment for several years to come. In it’s recent Environment Bill the Government announced its commitment to protect our environment and wildlife yet, after eventually banning Neonicotinoids and despite all the rhetoric about protection, they are now intending to allow the use of Thiamethoxam.”

This is the second year running that the Government has allowed banned bee-harming pesticides to be used by sugar beet farmers in England, threatening our precious pollinators. 

Environmental organisations the RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Buglife & The Wildife Trusts say the decision goes against the government's green promises, and will ultimately lead to the harm of wildlife.

Despite the exemption last year, bees were protected by a cold winter which killed off large numbers of aphids, meaning the threshold for use was not met and the pesticide was not used. 

Anne said: “The BBKA is concerned about the Government’s lack of commitment to uphold the promises made in the recent Environment Bill. The granting of this derogation for the use of Thiamethoxam as part of a seed dressing to protect sugar beet from Virus Yellow is distressing. They may have raised the threshold for the use of the pesticide but, in allowing this treatment, thousands of bees and valuable pollinators will die.”

“More research is needed, into the control of pests and viruses without the use of lethal neonicotinoids. The devastating effects on the environment and wildlife are far reaching. 

“All our pollinators need protection, they are vital for food production. The world would be a very different and poorer place if our bees disappeared. “ 

Thiamethoxam is known to have a devastating effect on wildlife- a single teaspoon is toxic enough to kill 1.25 billion bees. Less than two months ago, the Government adopted a legally binding commitment to halt the decline of wildlife by 2030 within its flagship Environment Act.