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Bees and Pesticide Petitions

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

In recent weeks I have seen more and more friends asking for petitions to be signed to prevent the use of pesticides in farming. As my finger hovered over the sign here button, questions entered my head and I decided to hold off on putting my name to the petition and learn more about the pros and cons of using pesticides.

The first question that entered my head was, 'Why are neonicotinoids being used'? Neonicotinoids were banned by the EU in 2018 from being used in farming. Now we've left the EU the British government proposing to allow farmers to use this pesticide for 21 days. I discovered that the farmers themselves made the request and have been supported by the National Farmers Union (NFU) to spray neonicotinoids under special circumstance on our sugar beet crop. In the past two years the crop has been attacked by the beetles, millipedes and other insects which usually are killed naturally through cold weather. Along with additional rainfall the crops are failing by up to 50%.

After understanding about protecting crops and ensuring a good yield I thought I had some idea of why the pesticides where necessary. Sugar beet is not a flowering or a native plant to the UK. Therefore the bees are not visiting the plant. They are however visiting the plants which grow between the sugar beet and pollinating or collecting nectar from those. The NFU have agreed to prevent the plants/weeds growing by spraying those to prevent the bees being drawn to those areas.

If a bee knew what a neonicotinoid would do to their body then they would definitely swerve that area. The chemical binds onto the receptors in the central nervous system. The bees are unable to remove this from their body and it causes them to become hyperactive and triggers seizures. Other pesticides currently in use do not kill the bees however they do cause behavioural impairment which impacts on colonies. Interestingly there is little research into whether bees are healthy or not.

It's not only bees which are in decline but birds too. Again despite the introduction of pesticides there has been a call for research into the reduced numbers of birds which has not materialised.

There is another concern, the concern that by signing this petition, people will think this issue is resolved and that the bee pollution will return to its normal number. There are many other factors which impact on the decline of bee and bird numbers which will follow...........

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