The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has approved the use of thiamethoxam – a bee-harming neonicotinoid – on sugar beet in England in 2023
Defra has approved an emergency temporary authorisation for the use of pesticide treatment on this year’s sugar beet crop due to increased risk of yellow virus.
Neonicotinoids are used on more than 140 crops to control pests – especially sap-feeding insects, such as aphids, and root-feeding grubs. Three of these chemicals, including thiamethoxam, were banned for outdoor agricultural use in the UK and the EU in 2018 due to their impact on bees. In a 2022 study researchers found that, if exposed to Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and thiamethoxam, bee mortality increases.
This is the third consecutive year that the banned bee-harming pesticide has been authorised for use on sugar beet crops if the incidence of yellow virus reached 63%.
In response, #StandByBees has issued a joint press release in collaboration with other stakeholders to highlight the effect this authorisation will have on biodiversity. It reads: ‘This raises wider concerns over whether the government will maintain existing restrictions on neonicotinoids and other harmful pesticides, or whether they may be overturned along with other regulations that protect nature, wildlife and communities as part of the Retained EU Law Bill.’ This bill is currently passing through the House of Lords.
Anabel Kindersley, Co-owner of Neal’s Yard Remedies said: ‘Many businesses beyond farming benefit from the UK’s track record of high standards on environmental protection, including manufacturers, brands and retailers with a British agricultural supply chain, as well as hospitality and tourism businesses based in the British countryside.
It is challenging for businesses to maintain a reputation for quality if they are linked to activity that is destroying nature. We believe that by acting against the advice of scientific advisors, the government is putting the UK’s well-deserved reputation at risk.’
Despite this being a loss for the banning of pesticides for the protection of biodiversity, #StandByBees and other lobby groups will continue to campaign for increased wildlife protection. You can support the cause by writing to your MP:
Here’s how to do your bit for the banning of bee-harming pesticides:
- Find out who your local MP is, which you can do here.
- Note down your local MP’s email and postal addresses, which can be found here.
- Visit the #StandByBees webpage.
- Click “Generate an email to my MP” This will automatically open your email browser, with the template letter already in the body of the email.
- Supporters just need to fill in their MP’s name and email address, plus their name and postcode.
- They can also edit and personalise the body of the email if they wish.