TheNFU has strongly disagreed with the new EnvironmentAudit Committee report on the National Pollinator Strategy which has called fora refocus to deliver a precautionary, hazard-based approach to pesticideuse to help protect bees.
NFUVice President Guy Smith stressed that farmers above all were concerned withand understood the need to protect bees, whose pollination activity is worth510million to agriculture and horticulture.
MrSmith said: Farmers need crop protection materials to grow crops and if theystop growing pollen rich crops such as oilseed rape then bees will be one ofthe main losers.
TheNFU believes that the National Pollinator Strategy needs to continue to focuson evidence-based actions that will deliver real benefits for bees,particularly to provide more of the food and habitat they need and not be drawninto promoting ineffective approaches, regardless of their apparent popularity.It is not the role of the National Pollinator Strategy to deliver aprecautionary hazard-based approach to pesticide use.
NFUlead on bee health Dr Chris Hartfield said: Focusing attention on the use ofneonicotinoids is a simplistic take on what is a hugely complex issue. If thisapproach is followed it will fail to help our bees and other pollinators bycontinuing to ignore the evidence we have. The evidence shows that whilepollinator diversity has declined significantly since the 1950s, this declinehas slowed in the last two decades. In fact, the diversity of our solitary bees(which make-up around 90 per cent of our bee species), has increasedsignificantly since 1990.
Neonicotinoidinsecticides were introduced to the UK in 1994, so the main declines inpollinator diversity pre-date neonicotinoids by some decades. Furthermore, arecent scientific review has shown clearly that there is currently no evidencethat pollinators, foraging naturally in and around treated crops, arepicking-up doses of neonicotinoids that are causing harmful impacts on theirpopulations.
Farmers and growers use crop protectionproducts in order to produce food and plants of the right quality and quantity.They remain vital to modern, sustainable farming systems.