Bees and neonicotinoids - February 2021

Dear constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about the use of neonicotinoids.

The Government continues to support the restrictions on neonicotinoids to protect pollinators, and emergency authorisations for pesticides are only granted in exceptional circumstances where diseases or pests cannot be controlled by any other reasonable means. These emergency authorisations can provide short term availability of a product if the applicant can demonstrate that this addresses a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means, that the use will be limited and controlled and that the necessary protection of people and of the environment can be achieved.

Emergency authorisations are also used by countries across Europe. The decision is not in any way related to Brexit. Ten EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain have granted emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments since 2018. Under EU legislation, Member States may grant emergency authorisations in exceptional circumstances. The UK’s approach to the use of emergency authorisations has not changed as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The application for the use of Syngenta’s Cruiser SB on the 2021 sugar beet crop is for England only and the duration of authorisation is strictly limited to the period required to allow supply of the product. Furthermore, sugar beet is a non-flowering crop that is only grown in the East of England.

This exceptional use of Syngenta’s Cruiser SB will be strictly controlled and conditions of the authorisation include reduced application rate as well as a prohibition on any flowering crop being planted in the same field where the product has been used within 22 months of sugar beet and a prohibition on oilseed rape being planted within 32 months of sugar beet.

Protecting pollinators remains a priority for the Government. The National Pollinator Strategy, published in 2014, is a ten year plan which sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of the approximately 1,500 pollinating insect species in England.

The Environment Minister recently reiterated to the House of Commons that "The Government considered the potential risks to the environment posed by the use of the product Cruiser SB on the basis of expert scientific assessment, and in accordance with the requirements for the grant of an emergency authorisation set out in Regulation (EC) 1107/2009. The Government concluded that, when mitigated by the strict conditions attached to the emergency authorisation, these risks were acceptably low in the circumstances and outweighed by the benefits of use. The Government remains committed to tight controls on neonicotinoids and has no intention of lifting the restrictions that were put in place in 2018.

Each application for emergency authorisation is considered on its own merits and particular facts. The application made for use this year contained new scientific information relevant to the assessment of environmental risks and made some different proposals for conditions of use, including a reduced application rate and a longer period between sowing the treated sugar beet seed and planting any flowering crop."

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

RF Sig

Richard Fuller MP