Thank you to all those who contacted me about pollinators and pesticides.
I believe we need proper measures to protect our pollinators. There is a myriad of pollinators in the insect world whose contributions to natural diversity can too easily be overlooked.
Since 1900, Britain has lost 13 of 35 native bee species, and we risk losing more if we do not act to protect them. They are essential to the future of our planet, to pollinating our crops, and to our rich tapestry of biodiversity.
I supported a Lords amendment to the then-Environment Bill which would have required assessments of the long-term effects of pesticides on bees and other wild pollinator. I was therefore disappointed that this was voted down by the Government. I would like to see the chemical approval system become more transparent and environmentally friendly.
We must ensure our farmers can protect their crops, by providing better support for the sector and by accelerating the introduction of blight-resistant crops, but we need to protect our pollinators at the same time.
The Government stated it would publish a final national action plan late in 2021 on the sustainable use of pesticides and their impact on the natural environment. It later said it expected this in Spring 2022, and now states it will be published in the first half of 2023. It has also said it is considering the potential role of targets to support its aims.
Neonicotinoid pesticides were banned across the EU in 2018 due to their harmful impact on bees and pollinators. The Government committed to maintaining these restrictions post-Brexit. However, this year, following the same decision in 2021 and 2022, it has authorised exemptions for a neonicotinoid known as Cruiser SB to treat sugar beet in England with a neonicotinoid pesticide. I do not support this, and am concerned the Government has gone against the advice of its own expert scientific advisors. The UK Expert Committee on Pesticides said it was unable to support an emergency authorisation of the pesticide as potential adverse effects to honeybees and other pollinators outweigh the likely benefits.