Michael Sly, chairman of NFU Sugar said: “The emergency use application is specifically for sugar beet growers to use neonicotinoid seed treatments in 2021 in a limited and controlled way on sugar beet – a non flowering crop.
"The application is made under EU legislation and is similar to those granted in other EU countries and is unrelated to Brexit or future UK regulations. The seed treatment would only be used if and when the threat of Virus Yellows disease in 2021 is independently judged to meet the scientific threshold for action.
“Because of the specific nature of the application, which relates solely and specifically to sugar beet, only sugar beet growers were invited to sign this letter explaining the terrible impact the virus is having on their crops. This was the reason the letter was not forwarded or circulated to a wider group.
“Virus Yellows disease is having an unprecedented harmful impact on Britain’s sugar beet crop this year, with some growers experiencing yield losses of up to 80%. There are currently no other effective protections against this disease and there are serious concerns about the future viability of home grown sugar as a result.
"The application was not made in secret, in fact it was reported upon in the media three weeks ago."