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#Science

Honeybees in danger as UK Gov authorised pesticide use despite known risks

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Despite knowing the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticide on honeybee colonies as early as 2013, the UK government authorised the use of these pesticides, a charity has revealed.

A new government backed study was published yesterday wherein a clear relationship between imidacloprid use (the most common neonicotinoid) and losses in honeybee colonies has been highlighted. According to Buglife, the government has been aware about the dangers since early 2013. The dangers were discussed during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides of 29th January 2013, wherein it was said that 7-8 per cent of honeybee colony loss was associated with imidacloprid use.

Buglife has since been chasing Government to publish this ever since, but their Chief Scientist indicated that he had assessed the data and did not believe it to be sufficient to carry out a valid study – it is embarrassing that the analysis has now been published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals.

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This year the Government authorised a derogation to allow farmers to use two types of banned neonicotinoids – clothianidin and thiamethioxam – on Oilseed rape, despite knowing about the link in their own data between the use of the closely related imidacloprid and loss of bee colonies.

The study period was 2002 to 2010, prior to the widespread use of clothianidin and thiamethioxam. The Government abolished the Advisory Committee on Pesticides in 2014 and there are fears that the regional data that enabled this sophisticated analysis is no longer being collated.

Matt Shardlow, Buglife CEO said “This is a profound disclosure by the UK Government, since 2013 they have known that neonicotinoid pesticides are linked to honeybee colony losses, but have repeatedly argued in favour of the continued use of these bee killing toxins, even in the last month breaking an EU ban to allow farmers to use them. Using neonicotinoid seed dressings is prophylactic and results in a net increase in area of land treated with insecticides, but again we find that neonicotinoids do not provide any consistent benefit to crop yields or the economy, they do however damage bees, pollinators and freshwater life: a complete ban is long overdue.”