The government’s belief that neonicotinoid restrictions are not justified by the evidence is based on a balanced and sensible assessment of the science, the NFU said today.
It comes following the publication of the government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report on pollinators and pesticides, in which it says more should be done to understand and tackle the issues facing pollinators, but stresses that action must be led by science.
NFU horticulture adviser Dr Chris Hartfield said: “This response is a very balanced and sensible reaction to the EAC’s report.
“Pollinators are essential for maintaining our biodiversity and pollinating many agricultural and horticultural crops. To ensure they are rightly protected from whatever damaging challenges they face, it is essential that our actions are led by the science.
“The NFU is committed to the approach of producing more while impacting less on the environment and under this approach we are very mindful of the impacts of agriculture on pollinators. While acknowledging the importance of pollinators, the government’s response also importantly recognises the value to society of food production and the underpinning role pesticides play in that production.
“These benefits have to be part of the consideration when managing the risks posed to the environment by pesticides.”
The NFU believes farming’s commitment to protecting the environment is already helping pollinators. Recent research by an international group of bee experts has linked conservation work and the agri-environmental management done by farmers and growers to the slowing down of bee, hoverfly and wild flower losses in recent years.
“The good news we should be celebrating is that declines in bumble bee biodiversity in Britain, have slowed since 1990, and for other wild bees - the solitary bees that make up around 90 per cent of our bee species - biodiversity has increased significantly in recent decades,” added Dr Hartfield.
While the government considers the European Commission’s sweeping restrictions on neonicotinoids to be unnecessary and the resultant costs unjustified, it acknowledges that it is legally-bound to implement the restrictions when they come into force on December 1.