A toxic pesticide will not be used on UK sugar beet crops after all, as the threat to the crops known as yellows disease did not reach the critical threshold following cold weather snaps, it has been reported.
Earlier this year, the Government gave the go ahead to use pesticides containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam due to the threat to crops posed by the virus. According to Iowa State University, a single corn kernel with a 1,250 rate of neonicotinoid seed treatment contains enough active ingredient to kill over 80,000 honey bees – equivalent to just 1.25 milligrams.
A month ago, Plantery reported that The Wildlife Trusts had announced that they were jointly exploring a legal challenge to the Government’s decision to allow the ’emergency’ use of the banned neonicotinoid Thiamethoxam, which is used for sugar beet production. They believed the decision may be unlawful after a similar decision was refused in 2018 when it was felt the use of such pesticides posed ‘unnacceptable risks’ to the environment. There has been no new evidence to prove this is no longer the case despite the decision.
Contamination of surrounding areas and habitats, such as flowering plants in field margins, hedgerows, subsequent crops and dispersed seeds, as well as surface waters, is a huge concern for the health of wildlife, including birds and pollinator insects such as bees; a 2017 study by Buglife found that 88% of water samples in Britain were contaminated with neonicotinoids.
Bees play an important role in our survival as humans, with experts claiming that every third bite of food we eat depends on them and their powers of pollination. A risk to them would impact multiple ecosystems, as well as our own health and sustainable food resources. As stated in their official annoucement, The Wildlife Trusts’ lawyers made contact with George Eustace, the UK Government’s Environmental Secretary to question the decision.
Instead this week the trust is celebrating what they call ‘a stay of execution for bees in 2021’, but warn is only a ‘temporary reprieve’ and that the ‘announcement that a banned neonicotinoid will not be used on sugar beet is good news – but does not halt the risk to wildlife in future years.”
You can sign their ongoing petition against the use of neonics for the future of UK wildlife here.