The sugar industry has been lobbying the Government with the National Farmers Union, to get them to authorise the use of the highly damaging neonicotinoid thiamethoxam for the treatment of sugar beet seed in 2021. The Government has bowed to the pressure and agreed.
The decision goes against all commitments this Government has made to help nature - including an explicit pledge to keep pesticide restrictions once the UK leaves the EU. It invalidates pledges around nature’s recovery made less than six months ago. And it crushes the Government’s stated vision for tackling the biodiversity crisis.
This is an emergency authorisation designed to help tackle the potentially damaging impact of aphids on sugar beet crop. Unfortunately with climate change set to increase the frequency of warmer and wetter winters in the UK, boosting the number of aphids which spread the sugar beet virus, there is a significant risk that this emergency authorisation becomes a common occurrence. IIt could lead to the return of routine application of neonicotinoid pesticides in the UK.
Since the EU-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, EU countries have issued at least 67 different “emergency authorisations” for outdoor use of these chemicals. These authorisations were often granted repeatedly, or without any apparent evidence of an unusual or ‘emergency’ situation as justification*.
Farmers should not have to choose between farming and nature. We want farmers to be supported to adopt non-chemical alternatives that are proven to support nature long-term. Read our full statement
It's essential that there is a halt to the unnecessary use of pesticides where people live, work and farm, with support for all sectors to make the transition towards becoming pesticide-free.
Our Action for Insects campaign is a response to the catastrophic decline of insect populations. Our 2019 report, Insect Declines and Why They Matter, included evidence of the loss of 50% or more of our insects since 1970, and the shocking reality that 41% of the Earth's remaining five million insect species are now 'threatened with extinction'.