Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, has spoken out against a decision by the government to approve an emergency authorisation for the use of Cruiser SB – a pesticide which contains a neonicotinoid that is extremely harmful to bees – on this year’s sugar beet crop.
It is the third year in a row that the government have taken this decision, and it came despite a warning from the independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides that “a reduction in survival of honey bees and impacts on homing flight ability (which also influences survival of foragers) could occur.”
The Health and Safety Executive also said that the risks posed to bees foraging on the pollen and nectar from flowering crops planted in fields of treated sugar beet posed “a potential concern”.
In a parliamentary debate on the matter, Margaret Greenwood MP said that “the government are ignoring the advice of their own experts” as she called for an explanation from the minister who was present.
She also said that it was an issue that a number of her constituents had written to her about to express their concerns.
Margaret Greenwood MP also used the debate to praise the work done by Flourish at Ford Way community garden project in Upton
She said that the group keeps hives that produce delicious honey and that all their gardening is done in a bee-friendly way.
She added that the group has recently been working with a local women’s group in Upton, which has been using Flourish’s polytunnels to grow plants and flowers that are then placed in the village centre.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “It is a matter of real concern that the government has once again approved an emergency authorisation for a neonicotinoid that is so harmful to bees.
“This is the third year in a row that they have allowed the use of this bee-killing pesticide.
“As the Pesticide Collaboration – which includes environmental organisations including the RSPB, Pesticide Action Network UK, Friends of the Earth and The Wildlife Trusts – has pointed out, even minor traces of toxic neonicotinoids play havoc with the ability of bees to forage, navigate and reproduce, which has catastrophic consequences for the survival of their colony or populations.
“Just one teaspoon of a neonicotinoid pesticide is enough to kill 1.25 billion bees.
“The government knows this, yet it has chosen to ignore it, and it has also gone against the advice of its own experts who raised considerable concerns.
“The minister who made the decision even accepted that there is a degree of uncertainty as to the benefits of using Cruiser SB to address the identified danger to sugar beet production, and that there is a degree of uncertainty in relation to the risk to bees.
“Bees and other pollinators are vitally important to food production and therefore human health.
“The government should be listening to the advice of their own experts on this matter, and they should not be approving the use of neonicotinoids which are so harmful to bees.”
Image: Mike Dooley of Flourish and Margaret Greenwood MP