24th January 2023

Use of Neonicotinoids; the UK now has the lowest regulations in Europe.

You may be aware that on 23rd January 2023 a temporary use has been given for a banned pesticide that is known to harm pollinators.

This has been approved by the Minister for Agriculture allowing the use of this banned pesticide (Cruiser SB: Thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid) to be used on sugar beet in 2023. This pesticide will be applied to seed as a dressing before planting if a high aphid count is seen. Aphids carry a virus known as Yellows which adversely affects some crops.

The BBKA is totally opposed to the use of this and similar pesticides due to their effect on honey bees and other pollinators, and the wider environment. As this matter is urgent, the BBKA would be grateful if you could register your opposition to the use of this type of chemical by writing to your MP.

As part of its Environmental policy the government rewards farmers to encourage the planting of wildflowers to actively boost pollinator movement and increase habitat for wild flowers.   This seems contradictory to allowing the emergency derogation of the bee poison ‘Cruiser SB’  against the advice of the Expert Committee on Pesticides, whose advice has not changed since the previous derogation.

This week the Prime Minister said: “Integrity and accountability is really important to me”, and yet his government is ignoring the Expert Committee on Pesticides’s advice. 

The Expert Committee on Pesticides stated in their report “There is new evidence regarding the risk from neonicotinoids globally which adds to the weight of evidence of adverse impact on honey bee behaviour and demonstrated negative impacts on bee colonies.”

We have to wait until 1st March 2023 for the release of the Rothamsted YV forecast model, which will issue a prediction for virus incidence levels which will determine if the use will go ahead.

Please express your opposition to the use of this chemical by supporting any suitable petition and writing to your MP. You can find the contact details for your MP by using the link and entering your postcode. 

https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons

When writing to your MP it is better if you do not use a form letter. Form letters tend to be less well received. The BBKA believes that the following points need raising with MP’s.

There is also now a Government petition available to sign, to seek the decision to permit the use of neonicotinoids to be reversed:  https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/631948This petition is now closed.

Use of this pesticide will mean that farmland affected will not be able to have any flowering crops for 32 months and there can be no further use of thiamethoxam seed treatments on the same field within 46 months.

This indicates that the government is aware that this chemical it is granting the derogation for is indeed toxic to all pollinators. 

The ‘precautions’ for the use of this chemical to ‘protect’ pollinators is to ban any flowering crops (or ground cover) in the soil where this treated seed is used for a period of 32 months following the crop planting and the use of herbicides to prevent flowering of any weeds (wildflowers to you and me!).

This means use of weedkillers over the 32 months following the use of Cruiser SB: Thiamethoxam.

Therefore, there cannot be any forage for bees or other pollinators for 3 years in any land used to grow crops treated with this chemical. This will be effectively at best a green monoculture with no forage for any pollinator. If any pollinators survive they will STARVE.

  1. Advice from the Expert Committee on Pesticides has been ignored.
    There is new evidence regarding the risk from neonicotinoids globally which adds to the weight of evidence of adverse impact on honeybee behaviour and demonstrated negative impacts on bee colonies.
    Further evidence has been published on the occurrence of thiamethoxam in honey and of adverse effects on other bee species, and these effects should be considered in addition to chronic effects on honeybees.
    There is a lot of literature on the adverse impact of neonicotinoids on aquatic organisms.

  2. What information there is does not seem to consider weather effects on the yield of the crop, which is the main reason for the derogation request.

  3. The ‘precautions’ to prevent bees from being affected by the Neonicotinoids, is to treat the fields and surrounds with herbicide to prevent flowering of wildflowers which would take up residual Neonicotinoid from the ground. This would appear to be directly in opposition to the stated aims of the new agricultural policy in development. This precaution is reducing the biodiversity of the environment and denies forage not only for bee species but other insects which is bound to affect other species such as birds which feed on insects. The precaution for using the chemical is to use more chemicals?

  4. There appears to be no sampling of the soil prior to the sowing of the treated seed nor any in the ‘precautionary’ period following the harvest of the sugar beet. Therefore, residual Neonicotinoids may still be in the soil after the precautionary period after crop harvest.

  5. The use of Neonicotinoids will not be used in future and investment will be made in resistant crops rather than the use of destructive chemicals.

Please help the BBKA to support you in protecting bees from the reintroduction of these probably harmful chemicals.

Thank you.

Anne Rowberry       Diane Drinkwater             Stephen Barnes
President                   Chair                                    Vice Chair

References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-pay-more-to-farmers-who-protect-and-enhance-the-environment
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/emergency-pesticide-authorisation-approved-to-protect-national-sugar-beet-crop
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/neonicotinoid-product-as-seed-treatment-for-sugar-beet-emergency-authorisation-application/statement-of-reasons-for-the-decision-on-the-application-for-emergency-authorisation-for-the-use-of-cruiser-sb-on-sugar-beet-crops-in-2023#summary
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1035598/ecp-full-minutes-28sept.pdf
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/neonicotinoid-product-as-seed-treatment-for-sugar-beet-emergency-authorisation-application/defra-economic-analysis-evidence-report-on-the-impacts-of-virus-yellows-on-sugar-beet-production 



3rd March 2023

The British Beekeepers’ Association have grave concerns about the emergency use of Cruiser SB being permitted by the Government, despite warnings from its own experts on the effects on pollinators.

The Government’s emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat seeds for the 2023 sugar beet seed crop in England causes the British Beekeepers’ Association serious concern for all pollinators on and around the 100,000 hectares of UK farmland which are used for growing sugar beet in the UK.

At the same time as the Government have launched a strategy supporting the conservation of vulnerable endangered species and the environment globally, then the same Government have permitted the use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment for sugar beet.  The Government’s own Scientists advise against it but, again, the UK Government decided to ignore their advice. This advice was from the Government’s own Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive who said they were “unable to support an emergency authorisation under Article 53 of Regulation 1107/2009, as potential adverse effects to honeybees and other pollinators outweigh the likely benefits.”

This emergency use will mean the use of chemicals on sugar beet seed (Cruiser SB is a coating for sugar beet seeds that contains the active substance Thiamethoxam. This chemical, and its breakdown product Clothianidin, are Neonicotinoid pesticides) which will not only devastate the population of pollinators in the surrounding areas but will affect the soil, and water and, therefore, the environment for many months and possibly years to come.

The strict conditions attached to the emergency authorisation, to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat seeds for the 2023 sugar beet seed crop in England, show just how dangerous this chemical is.

Why is it the UK Government continue to allow these devastating chemicals to be used when European countries have banned their use completely? The Court of Justice for the European Union made a ruling in the last few weeks which effectively stopped any further applications for emergency use of banned neonicotinoids across the EU.

How can the UK Government issue a Global Strategy Document showing their intention to support Conservation and Protection for the UK and Global Environment and a few days later endorse such devastating action? 

The Government should stop any future use of these devastating neonicotinoids.

Anne Rowberry
BBKA President