Campaigners call for outright ban on pesticides they claim are killing bee population
Two leading conservation charities are calling for a ban on insecticides in a bid to save Scotland’s ailing bee population.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Buglife Scotland want a permanent ban on three neonicotinoid insecticides.
Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops.
The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, loss of habitat and, increasingly, the near ubiquitous use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
This is a relatively new type of insecticide, used in the last 20 years to control a variety of pests, especially sap-feeding insects, such as aphids on cereals, and root-feeding grubs.
As part of the campaign, a debate was held at the Scottish Parliament, sponsored by Graeme Dey MSP, where evidence was given on the harmful effect certain neonicotinoids can have on bees and other wildlife.
This damage doesn’t stop at bees
It was intended to inform MSPs of the issues surrounding permanently banning the pesticides, including how farmers and other commercial growers would cope and how agriculture could cut down on all pesticide use by moving towards systems that benefit wildlife, improve long term farm health and safeguard our food systems.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust, Buglife Scotland and other leading conservation charities have written to the cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead calling for the EU ban to be made permanent for all crops in Scotland.
Dr Maggie Keegan, head of policy at SWT, said: “There is a huge body of evidence, that cannot be ignored, which shows that certain neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and other wild pollinators. Pollinators are invaluable to Scotland’s ecosystem and must be protected.
“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.”
“We’re looking forward to the debate at the Scottish Parliament and getting this discussion out there. This damage doesn’t stop at bees. Neonicotinoids persist in agricultural landscapes, contaminating soils, potentially impacting upon soil invertebrates, infecting wildflowers, leaching into the aquatic environment and may lead to a decline in insectivorous birds and butterflies in farmed systems.”
Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, added: “Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are in trouble and need all the help that we can give them. The evidence is conclusive neonicotinoids are a confirmed risk to wild pollinators, they travel through the soil into wildflowers and streams causing damage to wildlife in each habitat they pollute.
“A complete ban is overdue.”