Fears for British bees as lethal pesticide approved days after EU ban

Iain Duncan Smith on ‘big changes’ on Brexit benefits

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This isn’t the first time thiamexthoxam has been authorised for use in recent years. Its use was authorised in both 2021 and 2022 to help the UK’s sugar beet farmers, whose crops a vulnerable to a disease caused by bees known as virus yellows.

However, the month comes just a month after Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the UK was committeed to halving the impact of pesticides on the environment. Furthermore, the move came despite a government panel saying the government shouldn’t authorise the use of the pesticidie.

The move has angered charity Wildlife Trusts. In a statement, their Only a few days ago, the EU’s highest court ruled that EU countries should no longer be allowed temporary exemptions for banned, bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, putting half of all such derogations to an end.

“Yet this Government deems it acceptable to allow the use of a toxic pesticide that is extremely harmful to bees and other insects, at a time when populations of our precious pollinators are already in freefall. This is unacceptable when the Government should be implementing fast, meaningful support to help farmers move away from a reliance on toxic pesticides.”

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When the UK was still a member, the EU banned thiamethoxam and other neonicontinoids in 2013.

Along with thousands of others, this is a law which has been retained in the UK.

However, the ban on derogations does not apply because of Brexit.

Furthermore, there are restrictions in place which limit the use of the chemical. An independent scientific modelllling proces must find that the spread of the virus is likely to reach beyond a pre-set threshold.

The decision has also be criticised by organisation Friends of the Earth.

Campaigner Sandra Bell said: “It’s incredibly brazen to allow a banned bee-harming pesticide back into UK fields mere weeks after the government talked up the need for global ambition on reducing pesticides at the UN biodiversity talks in Montreal.

“This is the third consecutive year that the government has gone directly against the advice of its own scientific advisors with potentially devastating consequences for bees and other vital pollinators.

“The health of us all and the planet depends on their survival. The government must fulfil its duty to protect wildlife and keep pesticides off our crops for good – that means supporting farmers to find nature-friendly ways to control pests.”

However, the decision hasn’t angered everyone concerned.

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Speaking to the i chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s sugar board Michael Sly said: “The British sugar beet crop continues to be threatened by viru yellows disease, which in recent years has caused crop losses of up to 80 percent.

“I am relieved that this has been recognised by Defar in granting the derogation.”

In a statement, Defra said: “In 2020, 25 percent of the national sugar beet crop was last, costing £67m across an industry that creates nearly 10,000 jobs.”

They added the pesticide could only be used in very limited circumstances.

Nevertheless, the decision is likely to cause divide as the bee population continues to fall.

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