UK - A new report published today (Monday 28 July 2014) by a committee of MPs criticising the lack of effective Government action to protect UK bees from harmful insecticides, and the reliance on pesticide safety tests carried out by chemical firms, has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth.
In its report into the Government’s National Pollinator Strategy (NPS), due in October, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee call on the Government to support the recent EU-wide ban on bee-harming neonicotinoid chemicals, and not to try and overturn it when the European Commission conducts a review next year.
MPs agreed with Friends of the Earth’s evidence to their inquiry that the UK needs a strong action plan to reverse bee decline and that the draft NPS, published earlier this year, is still too weak on tackling pesticide use and the role of farming. MPs say the Government has missed the opportunity to reform farming to make it more bee and wildlife friendly.
Public concern about the plight of our bees is extremely high. Tens of thousands of people have taken part in the Great British Bee Count, a national bee survey organised by Friends of the Earth, Buglife and B&Q, since it launched in June, with over two thirds of a million bees already recorded.
Welcoming the report, Friends of the Earth nature campaigner Sandra Bell, who gave evidence to the MPs’ inquiry, said: “If the Government’s action plan to protect Britain’s pollinators is to have any credibility it must back the ban on bee-harming insecticides and set out a clear strategy to reduce pesticide use.
“Tough measures are also needed to halt the continued loss of our precious wildflower meadows and to help all farmers play a full role in reversing bee decline.
"Thousands of people across the UK are already taking action to help our crucial bee populations - the Government must act too."
Pollinators provide variety in our diets and some crops, like raspberries, apples and pears, particularly need insect pollination to produce good yields of high quality fruit.
Research has estimated the value of insect pollination to crops at around £400 million due to increases in yield and quality of seeds and fruit.
Whether people live in a town or in the countryside, they are being urged to help create or improve a habitat for pollinators in five simple ways:
1. Grow more nectar and pollen-rich flowers, shrubs and trees
2. Leave patches of land to grow wild
3. Cut grass less often
4. Avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects
5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
The five simple actions were drawn up with experts from Natural England, the Food and Environment Research Agency, conservation charities and the research community.
There are at least 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK. This includes 26 species of bumble bee, 260 solitary bees, 1 honey bee species and hundreds of types of hoverflies, butterflies and moths.
Defra will be publishing a national strategy for pollinators in the Autumn, following a public consultation earlier this year.
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