Bees are suffering and that is bad for all of us
1 May 2013
The Government urgently needs to introduce a ‘Bee Action Plan’ to ensure that we look after our bee population
Sir, European restrictions on pesticides linked to bee decline are an important stride forward, but as youreditorial (“Plan Bee”, Apr 30) rightly points out, we need a strategy for tackling other possible causes of falling bee numbers.Through our Bee Cause campaign we have been pushing the Government to introduce a Bee Action Plan.The campaign already has the backing of almost 180 MPs from all parties, retailers and tens of thousandsof individuals.Bees are crucial for our environment and economy. Replacing bee pollination with hand pollination couldcost UK farmers £1.8 billion a year. Last week David Cameron said that “If we don’t look after our beepopulations very, very serious consequences will follow”.It’s time to act on this rhetoric.
Andy AtkinsExecutive Director, Friends of the Earth
Sir, The reluctance of the British Beekeepers Association to join the call for action on neonicotinoids tellsus something about the complexity of this matter.They are justly worried about what comes next. There has been widespread rejoicing at the banning of pesticides without any thought of the need for other potentially financially and environmentally costly pesticides required to grow affordable food today.This debate has lacked an informed balance. It has not helped that a science-led government has lackeddefinitive independent research while emotional campaigns have been highly successful. No one has delvedinto the honey bee industry’s use of pesticides to control varroa mites. We must be prepared to pay more for agricultural R&D, habitat enhancement and our groceries. Yourleading article speaks volumes when it says that the battle for the bees has only just begun.
Rob Yorke Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Sir, The serious problems arising from the use of pesticides in agriculture (report, Apr 30) are not limitedto just one group of pesticides, the neonicotinoids. The reality is that there is a whole cocktail of pesticidesused in food production. The current UK policy regarding pesticides fails to assess adequately the risks of such exposure to any species whether it be humans, bees, or other. Further, successive governments havefailed to act on known risks and adverse impacts, especially on human health. There needs to be a completepolicy shift away from the dependence on pesticides by utilising sustainable non-chemical farmingmethods.
Georgina DownsUK Pesticides CampaignChichester, W Sussex