Saturday, 8 March 2014

UK launches bee protection plan – but asks pesticide companies to assess risks

It’s laughable that research into the impact of neonicotinoids on bees will be led and paid for by pesticide manufacturers

First the good news. The UK government has produced a draft National Pollinator Strategy and among the “priority actions” is gathering evidence “determining the effects of neonicotinoids on populations of wild and managed pollinators in field conditions”. The laughably bad news is that this will be led and paid for by the pesticide manufacturers.

Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides, have been repeatedly linked to harm in bees in top-ranking peer-reviewed scientific journals. The European Union has banned the use of three of them for at least two years, in the face of UK government opposition. The manufacturers have resolutely denied any harm and have now resorted to suing in an attempt to overturn the ban.

Yet environment secretary Owen Paterson and his department have decided that the best way to investigate the matter further is to allow the companies that produce and profit from neonicotinoids to mark their own homework. There’s no need to hold one’s breath for the results of that exercise.

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