FOOD SECURITY CONCERN – 99
Honeybees, which pollinate many crops as well as producing honey, are dying. In FSC 85 it was reported that the Co-operative Group is to prohibit the use of a group of eight insecticides implicated in the death of honeybees on its farms. It will make £150,000 for a research project into the decline of the honeybee and seek to identify the optimal mix of wild flowers that can be sown in field margins and on set-aside land to attract and support honeybees.
France, Italy, Germany and Slovenia have already banned neonicotinoid pesticides
and others are under investigation. Despite this, environment secretary Hilary Benn
says he has not seen any evidence that pesticides have an adverse influence on bees
and proposes to direct research funding to diseases and the varroa mite.
Data held by California’s Department of Pesticide Registration shows high levels of
one neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, in the leaves and blossoms of treated plants. In some
the levels were more than 20 times the lethal concentration for bees.
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Bayer CropScience reports that there is strong scientific evidence showing that their product, imidacloprid,
when used as a seed/soil treatment, is completely safe to bees. Other studies, it adds, have shown that the
real negative impact on French bees has been the increase in varroa mite parasite numbers and unfavourable
weather conditions in recent years.
The website of Bee Improvement in Cornwall suggests that there is a role for research but suggests its redirection from breeding for docility [facilitating mass production]: which in effect says “We do not wish to seek a bee that can defend itself. We'd rather rely on treatments decided by others . . .”
It recommends breeding for bees which can tolerate varroa, or strains which have stronger mandibles, slicing varroa and other insects or which “groom" themselves, removing varroa.
Philip Chandler www.biobees.com deplores the British Bee Keepers Association’s acceptance of money
from Bayer in return for endorsing some of their pesticides as 'Bee Friendly'. It has not condemned the use
of Bayer’s Imidacloprid, or the closely related Clothianidin, which killed nearly half a billion bees in Germany
Is commercial lobbying preventing a ban on such pesticides in this country?
Mr. Chandler urges all UK beekeepers to lobby the BBKA through their local branch to “abandon their mute acceptance of cash for chemicals from Bayer CropScience, Syngenta or any other company” and make a clear statement supporting organic farming, which he believes is the only safe option for bees.