April 26, 2013
Plans to ban insecticides linked to serious harm in bees across Europe would be a “serious mistake” and could harm food production, according to the government’s chief scientific adviser. Sir Mark Walport’s strident defence of the government’s opposition to the proposed ban came on Friday as hundreds of beekeepers and environmental campaigners marched on parliament in protest and delivered a petition signed by 2.6 million people to the prime minister at No 10 Downing Street.
“This plan is motivated by a quite understandable desire to save the beleaguered bee and concern about a serious decline in other important pollinator species,” Walport wrote in the Financial Times. But Walport, who is just a month into the job, said the European commission must drop its proposal to suspend three neonicotinoids from use on flowering crops, such as corn, that bees feed on: “The consequences of such a moratorium could be harmful to the continent’s crop production, farming communities and consumers.”
Supporters of the ban, likely to be passed in a vote on Monday, argue the greater risk to food production is from the long-term loss of bees. Experts at the European Food Safety Authority have concluded there is now sufficient evidence to impose a precautionary ban while further research is done.
On the march, Steve Benbow, owner of the London Honey Company, which has several hundred hives across the UK, said: “We’re here because the government is not listening to beekeepers – they need to wake up.”
This article was posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:15 am