Pollinators And Pesticides -
UK Environmental Audit Committee Report Published
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) launched an inquiry into pollinators and pesticides, particularly in relation to neonicotinoids.
The EC is a UK Select Committee, and can be very influential, because it puts a
lot of pressure on the government. The
committee comprises members across the political parties too.
However, I believe the government does have 8 weeks to
respond. See this video for more information:
So what did the EAC have to say about pollinators and pesticides?
Here are some key snippets I have taken from the report, which you can view here.
- Defra should
prepare to introduce a moratorium in the UK on the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin
and thiamethoxam on crops that are attractive to bees by 1 January 2014, and
support such a proposal in the EU. (Paragraph 81)
- Defra must
immediately withdraw the approvals for use in the UK of neonicotinoid
pesticides marketed for amateur application in private gardens and on amenities
in order to create neonicotinoid-free zones for pollinators in non-agricultural
areas. (Paragraph 84)
application of the precautionary principle involves economic factors becoming
entangled with environmental decision making, which not only contradicts
Defra's stated commitment to the precautionary principle, but risks overlooking
the significant economic value of insect pollinators to UK agriculture. Defra
should prepare to introduce a moratorium in the UK on the use of imidacloprid,
clothianidin and thiamethoxam by 1 January 2014, and support such a proposal in
- Defra must
review how it exercises the precautionary principle. Economic considerations
should not form part of environmental risk management decision making, but
rather should be a function of a distinct and transparent subsequent political
process. (Paragraph 69)
- Defra policy
on pesticides must be evidence-based. Where the available scientific evidence
is either incomplete or contradictory, Defra must apply the precautionary principle
rather than maintaining the status quo while waiting for further evidence.
On the lack
of transparency in the testing of pesticides and industry data:
- The agrochemical industry should place the results of its risk
assessment trials in the public domain to inform academic research and increase
transparency for the public. Defra should work with industry and academics to
establish which, if any, genuinely commercially sensitive details should be
redacted to make that possible.
scrutinising of pesticide data:
Governments, scientists and the public to have confidence in the EU-wide
pesticide approvals regime, data and analysis should be rigorously scrutinised
and quality checked to form a credible evidence base. The 2006 re-approval of
imidacloprid for use in the EU shows two flaws in the system. First, EFSA
identified the issue of soil accumulation in its peer review, but the European
Commission proceeded to sign off imidacloprid as an approved active substance
for use in Member States without explicitly addressing that risk. There seems
little point in EFSA's assessing risk if the Commission ignores environmental
threats identified in that process. Secondly, the choice of Germany as the
Rapporteur Member State in the case of a substance developed and manufactured
in Germany raised a potential conflict of interest. (Paragraph 39)
monitoring of insect pollinators:
- The available evidence indicates that wild insect pollinators, such as
hoverflies, moths, midges, butterflies and wild bees, are experiencing serious
population declines, but there is insufficient data to be precise about the
extent of such declines due to inadequate monitoring. Defra must introduce a
national monitoring programme to generate and monitor population data on a
broad range of wild insect pollinator species to inform policy making.
On pollinators and pesticides laboratory tests, and the recent flawed FERA test – see
FERA betray bees again
- The Henry,
Whitehorn and Gill laboratory studies raised serious concerns about the
potential effect of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees. While laboratory
studies should as far as possible replicate field conditions, they cannot by
their nature do so precisely. One of their virtues, however, is that they take
place in controlled conditions. The FERA bumblebee study, which Defra
commissioned to test the conclusions of the laboratory studies in the field,
was, we conclude, fundamentally flawed because the bees were placed outside on
different dates, some colonies had a lower starting mass than others and a
different neonicotinoid from the one used in the study was present in the
'unexposed' hives. The FERA bumblebee study is not therefore a compelling basis
for inaction. (Paragraph 51)
Farming does not need neonicotinoids:
pesticides are not fundamental to the general economic or agricultural
viability of UK farming, although there may be specific issues in relation to
oilseed rape that might require careful management if neonicotinoids were not
available to growers. (Paragraph 68)
On pollinators and pesticides (neonicotinoids) for amenity
- There is no
compelling economic or agricultural case for neonicotinoid use in private
gardens and on amenities such as golf courses, which provides Defra with an
opportunity to exercise its stated commitment to the precautionary principle.
Go from Pollinators and Pesticides and explore these links:
What can product patents tell us about the potential danger of pesticides to non-target insects?
What can company marketing literature aimed at selling pest products, tell us and do they indicate potential danger to other insects?
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