Call for permanent ban on pesticides known to hurt bees

A temporary European ban on pesticides proven to harm bees should be made permanent in Scotland, conservationists have said.

Neonicotinoids damage bee brains, disrupting pollination

Campaigners from the charities Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Buglife Scotland are calling for the Scottish Government to outlaw the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides on outdoor crops.

A two-year moratorium on the chemicals was put in place by the European Union in December 2013 after the European Food Safety Authority judged them to pose an unacceptable – and in some cases acute – risk to bees.

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Scientific research has linked clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam to brain damage in the insects and huge losses of queen bees.

“There is a huge body of evidence, that cannot be ignored, which shows that certain neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and other wild pollinators,” said Dr Maggie Keegan, head of policy for SWT.

“We now know that bumble­bees can’t pollinate crops effectively when exposed to these pesticides, so it makes moral, ecological and economic sense to ban them.”
Buglife chief executive Matt Shardlow said: “Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are in trouble and need all the help that we can give them.

“A complete ban is overdue.”

The insecticides are mainly used to control pests on cereal crops and oilseed rape. The ban is being reviewed in light of new research.

The issue was set to be discussed at the Scottish Parliament last night.

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey, who is hosting the debate, said he was looking forward to discussing what is a “hugely important issue” but the impact of a permanent ban on the wider agricultural sector must also be considered.