Soil Association

Soil Association calls on MEPs to ban pesticides which kill bees

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Source: Soil Association

EU proposals which will potentially ban the use of carcinogenic, mutagenic, neurotoxic and reprotoxic substances will be voted on by members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee on Wednesday 5 November.

As neurotoxins, the group of substances known as neonicotinoids [1] could be banned in the EU. These substances have been shown to have a devastating impact on honey bees across the world, and a number of European countries have subsequently banned their use [2]. We are urging the UK to do the same by supporting the new legislation.

As Hiltrud Breyer, the MEP overseeing the legislation explains, the new rules ‘will create a win-win situation for all – for consumers’ health, for the protection of the environment, but also for Europe’s farming industry’ [3]. The UK government is almost alone in opposing adequate safeguards.

The chemical industry has been making very misleading claims about loss of production from non-organic farming in the UK if these additional, and we think modest, safeguards are agreed by the EU [4].

Some of the claims are ridiculous; for example, an article in the UK farming press claimed that the UK would lose 100% of our carrot crop! [5] Organic farmers grow carrots, along with many other crops, successfully in the UK, and yields are not much below, or are similar to non-organic farms. We hope that MEPs on the Committee will treat some of the claims they are being presented with from the UK with a healthy scepticism.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director said:
'Other European Countries have recognised the devastating impact which these chemicals have had on the British honey bee population. The UK government should follow suit and support the EU proposals to ban these dangerous chemicals. The government should be acting to protect public safety and wildlife, not merely a small sector of the chemical industry'.

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