Environmentalists urge UK not to lift ban on controversial pesticide

The British government should not allow a banned pesticide which is linked to a decline in bee numbers to be used on UK crops, environmentalists have urged.

The call comes ahead of a decision by ministers on whether to agree a request by agro-chemical company Syngenta for an emergency exemption to use a restricted “neonicotinoid” pesticide on hundreds of thousands of acres of oil seed rape.

It is one of three neonicotinoids that have been banned by the EU for two years for use on flowering crops such as oil seed rape which are attractive to bees, after European authorities identified risks to honey bees from the chemicals.

The Government opposed the ban, claiming there was not enough evidence that bees were harmed by the pesticides, but has implemented it and is now considering the emergency derogation under EU rules.

The exemption is backed by the National Farmers’ Union which said it was needed to control pests which had the potential to seriously damage autumn-sown oil seed rape, and that the ban was not based on sufficient evidence.

But the move by Syngenta has come as a review of research from the last two decades concluded there was evidence that neonicotinoids pose serious risks to many pollinating insects and other wildlife.

A coalition of environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, Buglife, the Pesticide Action Network UK, the Soil Association and the Environmental Justice Foundation, have written to prime minister David Cameron urging him to maintain the ban.


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