Bees: Call for action as global review highlights pesticide threat
Published on behalf of The Bee Coalition (Friends of the Earth, Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, RSPB and Soil Association)
A new report released today confirms harm to bees from neonicotinoid insecticides and suggests the risks may be far broader.
The “Worldwide Integrated Assessment” reviewed 800 studies covering birds, animals, soil and water as well as bees. The conclusions are startling: neonicotinoids pose a major threat to a wide range of invertebrate species in soil, vegetation, aquatic and marine habitats. The authors recommend a complete global phase-out of neonicotinoid use, or at least a significant reduction. Conclusive evidence is lacking for vertebrate species such as birds and mammals, but here too there is cause for concern.
Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth, also a Bee Coalition member, added: “The widespread use of neonicotinoid seed treatments is not compatible with sustainable farming. Pesticides should be used only when they are really needed, not as an ‘insurance’ against possible pest damage. We need to see a wholesale shift to more bee-friendly ways of farming.”
Vanessa Amaral-Rogers of Buglife, a member of the Bee Coalition and one of the scientists behind the report, said: “The evidence is clear: neonicotinoids are harming our pollinating insects and could be causing damage to many other species and habitats. Regulators must take a much more precautionary approach to pesticide authorisations.”
The Worldwide Integrated Assessment was produced by an independent Task Force on Systemic Pesticides and is the most comprehensive review of evidence on neonicotinoids to date. The Bee Coalition will be urging the Westminster government to take account of its conclusions in the upcoming National Pollinator Strategy for England, expected in autumn 2014.
Steve Trent of Environmental Justice Foundation, a member of the Bee Coalition said; “The inappropriate use of pesticides has the potential to cause massive damage to the natural environment and through this to jobs, employment and income. Clearly the impact of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators has just this potential. We need to see a wholesale shift in how we conduct our agriculture to get rid of harmful chemical inputs and to build and reinforce sustainability. Failure to do this is likely to see the further decline of invaluable species like bees.”
Nick Mole of Pesticide Action Network UK a member of the Bee Coalition said; "This important report from the IUCN makes it clear that those that have been concerned about the effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators have been right to be concerned and we find it incredulous that Defra and the NFU have consistently towed the pesticide manufacturers line in claiming that these bee toxic pesticides present no threat to the world's pollinators"
Helen Browning, Director of the Soil Association, a member of the Bee Coalition said; "This overwhelming scientific evidence of the dangers of neonicotinoids follows a pattern. Classes of pesticides, previously claimed to be safe, are being found to be dangerous and subsequently banned. Farming urgently needs to learn the lessons of organic farmers, in the way they succeed to manage pests and benefit wildlife without the use of dangerous pesticides"
Notes to editors:
1. Systemic Pesticides Pose Global Threat to Biodiversity And Ecosystem Services | Task Force on Systemic Pesticides: http://www.iucn.org/news_homepage/news_by_date/?16025/Systemic-Pesticides-Pose-Global-Threat-to-Biodiversity-And-Ecosystem-Services
2. The Bee Coalition formed in 2012 when the UK’s main environmental groups joined forces to call for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides that are toxic to bees and pollinators. Since 2012, a core group of eight organisations (Buglife, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network, RSPB and Soil Association) have been working to bring attention to the plight of bees and pollinators and specifically to engage policymakers, industry and the public about their respective roles in ensuring their protection.