In an article for the Guardian, British Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today announced support for a total EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. In his article, Gove writes “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood. I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”
In his article, Gove refers to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the harm that neonicotinoids cause to populations of bees and other insect pollinators (see Woodcock et al. 2016, Tsvetkov et al. 2017 and Woodcock et al. 2017 for examples of recently published research). It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared from nature reserves across Germany, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.
Neonicotinoids are currently the most widely used group of insecticides in the world, as demonstrated by research recently published in the Journal Science which found that three quarters of honey from around the world was contaminated with neonicotinoids. In 2013, concerns surrounding the use of neonicotinoids led the European Union to ban their use on flowering crops, although at the time the UK was among the countries that opposed the ban. The European commission is now pushing for a total ban on neonicotinoid use outside of greenhouses. A vote is expected in December, and the UK’s change of stance makes it very likely that the ban will be adopted.