Success! The European Commission has listened to the 2.2 million people who signed the Avaaz online petition and proposed that member states restrict the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides linked to the decline of bees.
The Commission will be asking EU countries to suspend the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam on sunflowers, rapeseed, cotton, maize and other crops which bees are attracted to. The proposals mean the chemicals could be banned from use on flowering crops in Europe as early as July.
European Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent said: “We are requesting member states to suspend for two years the use of the pesticides on seeds, granulates and sprays for crops which attract bees. We hope the regulation can be adopted before March.”
The proposals will enter EU law on 25 February if a majority of Europe’s member states vote in favour. France and the Netherlands are supportive but the UK and Germany are reported to be reluctant. The Commission wants restrictions in place by July and the measures will be reviewed after two years.
Luis Morago, from campaign group Avaaz , said: “This could mark a tipping point in our battle, but it does not go far enough. Over 2.2 million people want the European Commission to face-down spurious German and British opposition and push for comprehensive ban of neonicotinoid pesticides!”
Friends of the Earth also believes this “hugely significant EU proposal” promises a first, important step on the road to turning around the decline of our bees. “The UK Government must throw its weight behind this,” it said. “The evidence linking neonicotinoids to declining bee populations is growing. We can’t afford to ignore the threat they pose to these crucial pollinators.”
Posted in Bees, Nature, Wildlife
Tagged Avaaz, campaigns, conservation, countryside, crops, Europe, European Commission, Friends of the Earth, pesticides, petitions
The world’s most widely used insecticide has been officially labelled an “unacceptable” danger to bees feeding on flowering crops.
Bees and other pollinators are critical to one-third of all food but two major studies last year implicated neonicotinoid pesticides in the decline in the insects. Last April, the European Commission demanded a re-examination of the risks posed by the chemicals.
Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded on Wednesday that it is not acceptable to use three neonicotinoid insecticides on crops attractive to honey bees – including oilseed rape which is widely grown in the UK. They also found huge gaps in safety information and a lack of testing for the impact of the chemicals on other pollinating insects.
Friends of the Earth believe this is a major turning point in the battle to save our bees. The charity’s Executive Director, Andy Atkins, said: “The clear link between neonicotinoid pesticides and declining bee health must sting the Government into action. Ministers must urgently remove these dangerous chemicals from sale, overhaul inadequate pesticide safety tests and ensure farmers have access to safe, effective alternatives.”
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “This research will be examined by the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides and their advice will be considered by ministers. If it is concluded that restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids are necessary, they will be brought in.”
A quick update on the Bee Cause campaign. A total of 125 MPs showed their support for halting bee decline by posing with a giant cuddly bee and sign saying ‘Britain needs its bees’ at the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party politicians all backed the Friends of the Earth campaign, including the Tory MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant (below). They learnt that the amount of honey produced by UK bees fell by 72% in 2012 compared with the previous year.
The campaign is calling for a National Bee Action Plan to tackle the major threats facing British bees and you can give your support by signing an online petition.
Friends of the Earth’s Nature Campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said: “It’s a very welcome first step to see so many MPs recognise the importance of bees to our farmers, food prices and countryside. But they must now act urgently to halt bee decline. The effect of letting bees go the same way as ash trees would be catastrophic.”
There was good news for the Bee Cause campaign this week. A powerful group of MPs is to investigate the impact of pesticides on bees. The move follows mounting evidence about the harmful effect of neonicotinoids, including a recent report by Friends of the Earth.
The Environmental Audit Committee will quiz Ministers about why the UK has failed to join other European countries, such as France and Italy, in suspending use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The influential committee will also look at the effect of pesticides on human health and address broader issues, such as whether the Government should encourage alternatives to pesticides.
You can support the Bee Cause campaign by signing an online petition, which calls on David Cameron to introduce a National Bee Action Plan, including the suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides.
A recent Friends of the Earth poll revealed that 85 per cent of British people would like to see the Government increase the use of clean British energy and reduce the use of overseas gas.
This is not surprising as gas, coal and nuclear are the technologies of the past. Our country has the skills and the talent to be world-beaters in the renewable energy technologies of right now.
New onshore wind power is cheaper than nuclear power and developing offshore wind could create 66,000 UK jobs by 2020. We’re already a leader in tidal power, and our solar industry is a great British success, employing about 29,000 people.
This is why Friends of the Earth is urging the Government to switch from dirty imported fossil fuels and develop British power from our wind, power and water. It wants Energy Secretary Ed Davey to:
- Listen to what people want and tap into Britain’s wind and tidal resources and solar power.
- Ensure the UK isn’t locked into another generation of expensive, imported gas.
- Close the door on expensive nuclear power.
- Reverse the domination of the market by just a handful of big companies and allow new, clean companies get a look-in.
- Help millions around the country plug into affordable clean power.
You can read more about the Clean British Energy campaign and how you can support it by visiting the charity’s website.
Ministers must do more to promote wind power
This great blog from the Brentford Recycling Action Group gives more information about the Bee Cause campaign.
Brentford Recycling Action Group
Why is Friends of the Earth campaigning on bees?
Because bees are in trouble
Bee numbers in Britain have fallen dramatically in recent years. Three bumblebee species are already extinct.
Many factors are causing bees’ decline – from habitat loss, to disease, to climate change. There is also growing evidence that some pesticides harm bees.
Because we need bees
Bees are essential to our food supply, economy and quality of life:
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Under threat: bees play a vital part in our lives.
During a recent walk near Finchley, I came across a warning sign urging me to “approach with care, we have bee hives here.”
Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t resist taking a closer look and, sure enough, behind a gate there stood two big hives with hundreds of bees working busily away inside.
The UK is home to over 250 species of bee, including honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees. They are important to our food supply and our economy, but they are declining at a worrying rate and action is needed to help them. Three bee species have become extinct and managed honey bee colonies, like the one I saw, fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005.
A new report by Friends of the Earth calls for action in several areas across Government, including looking at the way we farm our land and the way we plan our towns and cities.
The charity is calling on David Cameron to urgently draw up a National Bee Action Plan to reverse bee decline. It says the Prime Minister needs to work across Whitehall and with local and devolved governments – and with farmers, businesses and government agencies – to ensure that effective action for bees is put in place across the UK.
Friends of the Earth believe the Government’s new pesticides plan (being drafted this summer) must act to protect bees by phasing out use of those pesticides most harmful to bees, including suspending use of neonicotinoids while the latest evidence is reviewed, and help farmers find safer alternatives
The charity has launched an online petition and is organising a series of Bee Cause events around the UK. These include two bee walks organised by the local Hounslow and Brentford group on 2 and 8 September at Boston Manor Park, and a Bee Friendly planting in Highbury Park on 22 September.