More farmers want to be neonic-free

British Sugar is the company that recently asked the UK Government to lift a ban on a chemical known to kill bees, for use on sugar beet crops in England.  

Farming Minister, Mark Spencer, said yes to this request.

Just half a teaspoon of this chemical can kill 1.25 billion bees.

This is why we need neonic-free sugar.

British Sugar is the sole buyer and processor of UK-grown sugar, but currently the company provides no way for beet farmers who choose not to use neonics, to market their sugar as neonic-free. And as consumers, we also have no way of knowing if the sugar we buy is affected. 

Only British Sugar can make this change happen.

Choosing to grow sugar without neonicotinoids (known as neonics) is the best way to a wilder future. Many farmers are trying to do this but they need more support.

There's plenty of evidence that our food can be produced in a way that helps, rather than harms, nature.

Neonic-free sugar is possible.

Evidence shows:

• In 2022, 29% of sugar beet farmers did not use the neonicotinoid Thiamethoxam after the UK Government approved its use.

• In 2023, this number rose to 40% of sugar beet farmers. 

It is clear that a growing number of farmers do not want to use damaging neonicotinoids, and they should be rewarded for this.

We know the public want neonic-free sugar. In 2021 over 100,000 people signed a letter to the then-Prime Minister when this authorisation was first granted, calling for it to be overturned. Over 15,000 messages were sent, in the last 6 weeks, to the UK Farming Minister calling on him to listen to the science and support nature-friendly farmers.

What is the problem with neonics? >

The neonicotinoid ('neonic') called Thiamethoxam was bannedin the UK in 2018 because of the wide-spread harm it causes, being lethally toxic to pollinating bees and a significant polluter of our rivers.  

This is the fourth year in a row that the UK Government has granted Thiamethoxam for use.  

In January 2024, the Thiamethoxam was approved, yet again, for use on sugar beet crops across England. Each time this has been approved, it not only disregarded the scientific advice of the Government’s own independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, as well as Health & Safety Executive, but also ignored the growing numbers of farmers who choose not to use this toxic chemical. 

Read our reaction to this latest news here.

Other petitions and campaigns led by our friends including Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network and Friends of the Earth have also been backed by millions of people who also don’t want the sugar we eat to be grown with banned chemicals.

What will happen with this petition? >

Please help us gather as many signatures as possible to this petition before we hand it in to British Sugar.  We plan to meet with British Sugar bosses alongside key representatives from the farming community and other experts, to share this petition and ask for their action.  Meanwhile, The Wildlife Trusts still await a response to our request for a meeting with the UK Government to discuss our concerns. 

We will share your views, but not your personal details with the UK Government and British Sugar as part of this campaign.  You can read more about our campaign and other ways you can help here

Sign the petition! Tell British Sugar you want them to support farmers who choose not to use neonics. They should have the opportunity to market their produce as neonic-free, and be paid a premium for this.  You can also add your own views about why you want neonic-free sugar and more nature-friendly farming.