Since becoming an MP I have been working hard to prioritise policies that tackle climate change and ensure the preservation of our environment.
Therefore I have written extensively before regarding the viral importance of protecting Bees and other pollinators, which are essential for the survival of our planet.
As I am sure you are aware, Neonicotinoid pesticides were banned across the EU in 2018 due to their harmful impact on bees and pollinators, and the UK Government committed to maintaining these restrictions post-Brexit.
However, on 14 January, the Government announced an exemption to this ban to treat sugar beet in England in 2022 under certain conditions.
This will have a direct and potentially devastating impact on bees and as a consequence the continued health of our ecosystem. In the UK, 13 bee species are already extinct and now one in ten of Europe’s wild bee species are under threat.
I am strongly opposed to this authorisation and now am concerned the Government has gone against the advice of their own expert scientific advisors.
The Health and Safety Executive could not have been clearer that after detailed consideration it does not support authorisation of this pesticide, and that the potential adverse effects to honeybees and other pollinators outweigh the likely benefits of authorisation.
Despite this, last year the Government ignored scientific fact and authorised the same pesticide. I voted for an amendment to the Environment Bill that sought to prevent the Government from lifting the ban on neonicotinoids without greater parliamentary scrutiny.
Disappointingly this was also voted down by the Government
Ultimately, weather conditions last year meant there was no need to use the pesticide, but there is no guarantee we will be lucky again this year.
I back our farmers and am concerned that sugar beet farmers are experiencing a difficult time with crop blight.
However, lifting the ban is not the answer. We must find a science-led way forward which protects our bees and safeguards our future biodiversity, which also includes better support for the farming sector and accelerating the introduction of blight-resistant crops.
These pesticides are seriously harmful to Britain’s dwindling bee populations and will further damage biodiversity. We must be prepared to take tough calls to address the ecological crisis and to be a showcase for environmental best practice, rather than allowing more bees and pollinators to be killed by neonicotinoid pesticides.
Bee health is non-negotiable. I am urging the Government to reverse its decision and uphold the ban on neonicotinoids.