Tag Archives: Defra

Badger Cull a Shambles – well there’s a surprise!

Badger cull now under way amid protests

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Pic: PA

The  badger cull is now under way in England despite protests. About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Farmers and the Government say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB,  but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures. The RSPCA said it was “saddened”, while anti-cull campaigners turned out in large numbers at the pilot sites  to protest against what they call “inhumane” action. It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “The Government’s divisive badger cull will cost more than it saves and will spread bovine TB in the short-term as badgers are disturbed by shooting.

“We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle. Ministers should listen to the scientists and drop this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

Minister launches urgent review into bees crisis

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There was great news today when the government launched an “urgent” review of the crisis facing bees and other pollinators in the UK and introduced a national pollinator strategy.

Defra Minister Lord Rupert de Mauley announced “an urgent and comprehensive review of current policy, evidence and civil society action on pollinators to identify what needs to be done to integrate and step up our approach.”

The news was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, who said: “We’re delighted that enormous press from scientists, businesses and the public has stung the government into action. The minister’s plan of action must be in place when bees emerge from hibernation next spring: we can’t afford to gamble any longer with our food, countryside and economy.”

Bees and other pollinators fertilise three-quarters of global food crops and have seen severe declines in recent decades, due to loss of habitat, disease and harmful pesticides. In the UK, wild honey bees are nearly extinct, solitary bees are declining in more than half the areas studied and some species of bumblebee have been lost altogether.

In April, the European Union suspended the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides linked to serious hard in bees, despite the opposition of UK ministers.  

De Mauley said: “We know there are gaps in the evidence. That is why I am launching an urgent and comprehensive review of current policy, evidence and civil society action on pollinators to identify what needs to be done to integrate and step up our approach. This urgent review will form the basis of a national pollinator strategy, which will bring together all the pollinator-friendly initiatives already underway and provide an umbrella for new action.

“We all recognise that pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment In safeguarding their future, we can secure our own.”

Friends of the Earth said: “Announcing a National Pollinator Strategy is an important step in the right direction. Now the hard work starts. It will still take some time for the Government’s bee-saving measures to be finalised. So we will need to keep up the campaign pressure. The detail is everything. Today is a day to celebrate, but we can’t ease off just yet.”

Cattle transport, not badgers, really causes bovine tuberculosis

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from Britain says about itself:

Watch this cute badger cub run round in circles with excitement as it sets off for an evening outing.

From Wildlife Extra, about Britain:

Defra statistics show bTB soared after cattle imports

A case of foot in mouth for Defra as their own evidence reveals true cause of bTB outbreak

May 2013. Statistics released by Defra in a bid to explain why the badger cull must go ahead have, in fact, revealed the true cause of the bTB outbreak that they are trying to stop, say Care for the Wild.

bTB soared after Foot and Mouth controls relaxed

Figures show that incidences of bTB soared in 2000/2001, in certain areas. This correlates almost exactly with the relaxation of movement controls after the Foot and Mouth epidemic, which saw large numbers of herds restocked from the UK and across Europe.

Influx of untested…

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Action to save bees: EU to ban killer pesticides

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Great news! After months of campaigning by environmentalists, the European Commission has taken action to protect bees by restricting the use of harmful chemicals in pesticides.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban and, even though the vote was split, the Commission imposed a two-year restriction on three neonicotinoids, which research has shown to harm bees  – and the UK cannot opt out.

The ban means neonicotinoids  will not be used on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators, there will be a ban on the sale of neonicotinoids to amateur growers.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 December this year. After today’s vote, EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, said “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22bn euros (£18.5bn; $29bn) annually to European agriculture, are protected.”

The UK was among eight countries that voted against the ban,  arguing that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive.  Four nations also abstained. But Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said the vote “makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban. Those countries opposing a ban have failed.”

A report by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded the pesticides posed “a high risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

There was intensive lobbying in the run-up to Monday’s vote. Protesters against neonicotinoids rallied in Westminster on Friday and campaign organiser Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said “leading retailers have already taken action by removing these pesticides from their shelves and supply chains – the UK government must act too”.

Marchers urge ban on killer pesticides

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Campaigners marched on Parliament yesterday, urging the British Government to support a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides that are responsible for declining bee numbers.

The ‘March of the Beekeepers’ in Parliament Square came ahead of a crucial vote in Brussels next week, and included a number of celebrities, as well as many  beekeepers, conservationists, gardeners and environmental activists. Fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett and artist Rachel Whiteread were among those protesting at Westminster.

Yellow and black dominated the scene as many in attendance dressed as bees and carried signs with slogans such as “Like Food? Love Bees” and “No to Neonic,” referring to pesticide class called neonicotinoids that a number of recent studies have tied directly to the decline of bee populations.

Member states are due to decide whether or not to introduce a two-year moratorium on their use on Monday. Unlike France, Spain and Italy, Britain is widely expected to abstain or vote no against the neonicotinoid ban, saying the impact of the pesticides on bees is unclear and the restrictions could harm crop production.

The organisers of the so-called “March of the Beekeepers” included Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, Soil Association and the group 38 Degrees.

“Ministers can’t ignore the growing scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline,” said Friends of the Earth’s campaigns director Andrew Pendleton. “Their claims to be concerned about bee health will ring hollow if they fail to back European moves to restrict the use of these chemicals.”

So far 2.6 million people have signed the Avaaz petition, which calls for the immediate ban of neonicotinoid pesticides.

Ban bee-harming pesticides, MPs urge

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Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images

The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, must end Defra’s “extraordinary complacency” and suspend the use of pesticides linked to serious harm in bees, according to a damning report from a leading group of cross-party MPs.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has told the UK Government they were wrong when they chose not to support a two year ban on the three neonicotinoid pesticides most dangerous to bees and should change its position.

Members of the EAC concluded that by the start of 2014 the UK Government must enforce a moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, as well as support a similar proposal at a European level.

“The environment department seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy,” said the EAC’s chair, Joan Walley. “We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action.”

The Committee also called for data on the environmental safety of pesticides to be made public and highlighted the urgent need for a wild pollinator monitoring programme, which would show where pollinators need our help the most.

Friends of the Earth has written to the Government asking it to ban the worst bee-harming pesticides, and is now asking you to add your name to the letter, which tells Ministers to ban the most bee-harming pesticides and accept the EAC’s recommendations.

The charity said: “If enough of us add our names we can persuade the Government to accept the EAC’s recommendations – and follow the lead of the DIY stores and garden centres that have already taken some of the most dangerous pesticides off their shelves.”