Decisive action from the Government is required on the dangers of pesticides for pollinators
22 October 2012
Biologists at the University of London that carried out a detailed field study into bumblebees have exposed to two commonly used agricultural insecticides, including the neonicotinoid imidacloprid.
According to the researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, exposure to a combination of the two pesticides increases the likelihood of colonies failing .
The researchers sought to mimic what happens in a real-life setting, where different crops are sprayed with different pesticides at different dosages and times. The scientists have outlined how the experiment was exceptionally long and detailed – monitoring the bees for four weeks, rather than the 96 hours required by current guidelines.
Today also marks the closing date of the Government’s consultation on the UK’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides . The Soil Association has submitted a response which outlines the fact that the current action plan demonstrates no commitment to encourage the development of alternative approaches to pesticide use.
Given the vital importance of preserving honey bee and bumblebee populations, the UK Pesticide National Action Plan should respect the strong scientific evidence and suspend seed treatments using neonicotinoids. In doing so they will follow Italy who have found good evidence showing that their bee populations are recovering three years since the Italian Government stopped maize seed treatment with neonicotinoids. Furthermore France recently announced plans to ban a neonicotinoid pesticide. Action is also needed to support farming systems such as organic production which do not rely on the use of pesticides.
Soil Association head of policy Emma Hockridge said: “This new study builds on the already significant body of evidence which points to the detrimental impacts of pesticides on pollinators. It also highlights the unacceptable standard of current pesticide safety regulation.
We urge the Government to take decisive action and follow the lead of other European countries which have taken steps to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.”
For press enquiries contact the Soil Association press office:
Josh Stride, press & e-communications officer – 0117 314 5170 / 07717 802 183
Notes to Editors
 ‘Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees’, Richard J. Gill, Oscar Ramos-Rodriguez & Nigel E. Raine, Nature Online, 21st October 2012: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11585.html
 “This consultation invites views on the draft UK National Action Plan (NAP) for pesticides. This is the next stage in the implementation of the EU Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides which was transposed into UK law on 18 July by the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012. The National Action Plan (NAP) is designed to ensure that plant protection products can be used sustainably in the UK and is to be developed in consultation with stakeholders including members of the public”.
 The Soil Association’s Keep Britain Buzzing campaign wants to ban neonicotinoid pesticides and is working promote bee-friendly organic farming so everyone can make a difference by simply changing their shopping habits. http://www.soilassociation.org/supportus/keepbritainbuzzing