Neonicotinoids are poisoning our countryside

A few years ago, evidence was mounting up linking three systemic neonicotinoid insecticides to declining honeybees. Against the wishes of the UK government, this led to a temporary EU wide ban on the use of these insecticides, though on flowering crops only. Since the start of the partial ban in April 2013, the evidence against neonicotinoids has continued to mount even higher – and to take a dramatic new turn.

It is now clear that it isn’t just our honey bees, and not just neonicotinoids on their own, that we should be worried about.

These insecticides are poisoning our countryside – getting into soils, wildflowers, hedgerows, streams and trees near to treated crops. This includes wild flowers, shrubs and trees next to crops like wheat and barley which are still allowed to be treated with these chemicals. All aquatic, soil living, leaf eating, sap sucking and nectar feeding insects are at risk – and so therefore are all our farmland birds and other animals that rely on these for food. Worse still, Soil Association funded research has found that wildflowers near to treated crops are also contaminated with a whole cocktail of pesticides, which earlier research shows, could drastically increase the toxicity of neonicotinoids.

It is time to protect our countryside from these toxic chemicals.

Neonicotinoids are likely to weaken already vulnerable populations – the last straw on top of the other threats that bees and other farmland wildlife face: habitat destruction, climate change, new diseases and exposure not only to neonicotinoids, but the whole cocktail of chemicals applied to crops.

We need to ensure that the current partial ban is made not only permanent, but total. You can help us to achieve this – and support our work changing the way we farm for good – by becoming a member of the Soil Association.
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