Cheshire Wildlife Trust are urging the public to call on the Prime Minister and their local MPs to reinstate a ban on a highly damaging pesticide that kills bees. This follows the Government decision to authorise the emergency use of thiamethoxam on sugar beet crops.
Thiamethoxam is a neonicotinoid, a group of chemicals so toxic that just one teaspoon can give a lethal dose to 1.25 billion honeybees. The poison is absorbed by plants and then passed on to insects through their nectar. Research has shown this then goes on to affect the immune system of the bees, often leading to their death The Trust is highly concerned because only 5% of the applied pesticide ends up on the crop with a majority passing into the soil or nearby streams and rivers.
The emergency lifting of the ban also includes a recommendation that farmers use weed killers in order to kill off any surrounding wildflowers that might attract bees. This comes as the Government commits to spend £3bn restoring nature and biodiversity. Cheshire alone has lost 99% of its species-rich grassland since the 1960’s.
James Melling from Cheshire Wildlife Trust commented:
‘The lifting of this ban is a huge step backwards for the environment. Bees and insects are in widespread decline through the overuse of pesticides and the continued destruction of wildflower habitats. The fact this measure allows for both shows an utter disregard for the situation we are in. Nature is not disposable – 80% of UK plants are pollinated by insects like bees including many of our crops; we simply cannot live without them.
The Government needs to start acting on its commitments and turn the UK from one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, to one where nature is valued. It needs to support farmers with a shift to alternative pest management that does not have such a devastating impact on bees and pollinators.’
The Government rejected a similar call to lift the ban in 2018 citing the devastating environmental impact of the pesticide. The Wildlife Trusts argue that this is only confuses the matter further.
James Melling adds:
‘The science behind this has not changed; the Government need to do the right thing and reinstate the ban immediately.'
The Trust are asking all members of the public to sign their letter and call on their MP for support.