The UK government has broken its promise to keep restrictions on a bee-killing pesticide which was banned in the EU two years ago.
The ‘environmentally regressive’ move from the Environment Secretary George Eustice comes at a time when British insects are in serious decline. The UK has lost a third of its bees in the last decade while land-based insects have declined 50% in the last 75 years.
This is simply unacceptable and urgent action needs to be taken to protect the creatures that are essential to both human and non-human survival.
Neonicotinoid thiamethoxam – the chemical which is toxic to the insect population – has been green-lighted for ‘limited and controlled use’ in response to lobbying from the National Farmers Union concerned about reduced yields.
However, even ‘limited’ use has the potential to severely impact the dwindling bee population in the UK. The pesticide can harm bee brain development, weaken their immune systems and leave them unable to fly.
In a horrifying turn of events, this approval comes just months after DEFRA published their Healthy Bees Plan 2030 which aims to ‘protect and improve the health of honey bees in England and Wales’. The irony is stark and highlights a series of broken promises when the globe is in an environmental crisis.
The Wildlife Trust has slammed the government’s decision to allow the use of the toxic pesticide.
“The Government knows the clear harm that neonicotinoid pesticides cause to bees and other pollinators and just three years ago supported restrictions on them across the European Union.
“Insects perform vital roles such as pollination of crops and wildflowers, and nutrient recycling, but so many have suffered drastic declines,” the Trust explained.
“Evidence suggests we’ve lost at least 50% of insects since 1970, and 41% of all insect species are now ‘threatened with extinction’. We need urgent action to restore the abundance of our insect populations, not broken promises that make the ecological crisis even worse.”
Buglife (the Invertebrate Conservation Trust) CEO Matt Shardlow echoed the Trust’s words: “This is an environmentally regressive decision by Defra. Destroying wildflowers in the countryside to prevent them from transferring insecticides to bees is obviously beyond the pale.”
The gravity of the situation is, that if invertebrates were to disappear from existence, the world’s ecosystems would simply collapse. Therefore, the approval of this bee-killing pesticide is in a word, catastrophic.
While other world leaders are making efforts to combat the ecological disaster threatening the globe, the government’s ignorance towards protecting insects is unforgivable.
A petition has launched on change.org which has garnered almost 170,000 signatures from outraged British citizens.
The petition reads: “This pesticide is lethal to bees and other pollinators which our environment desperately needs as pollinators help flora and fauna. Bees pollinate up to 3/4 of crops which makes the use of this pesticide incredibly counter-intuitive. Sign this petition to tell the government that this is NOT acceptable and that our environment matters!”