“Owen Paterson is leading the call to vote against this EU measure to restrict the use of pesticides which harm bee populations,” Glenis Willmott said. “It seems he’s been successful in dividing opinion, with other big EU countries such as Spain and Germany now following the UK government’s line.”
“Clearly the government has listened more to the lobby of the big pesticide companies than to the concerns of their own constituents.”
Bee populations are in decline across the world. It is estimated that since 2007 the number of bees in the UK has fallen by 30%. As around three quarters of crops are reliant on pollination by bees, this is a serious problem.
“It has long been suspected that some neonicotinoid pesticides are harmful to bees, and I asked the European Commission in 2011 whether they planned to take any action. At the time they said there was not enough scientific evidence,” Glenis Willmott said.
This January the European Food Safety Authority said that three types of these pesticides are dangerous to bees and should not be used on flowering crops. EU countries were scheduled to vote on the proposals in February, but the final vote was postponed until April because of the divergence of opinions.
“Other European countries have already taken action, with France and Italy already restricting the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides. However we have to work at a European level if we are going to make a difference to the worldwide decline in bee numbers,” said Glenis Willmott.
“Now we have the scientific evidence we must act. Mr Paterson says he wants to wait and see until the UK has carried out more research, but we have waited long enough. The bee population is in crisis and if the Tory-led government blocks this crucial measure now, the consequences could be dire.”