Brighton and Hove MEP urges pesticide ban to protect bees

Posted On 14 Mar 2011 at 5:25 am

One of the MEPs who represents Brighton and Hove has called for a ban on pesticides that he says may be a threat to bees.

Peter Skinner, who represents South East England in the European Parliament, said: “There is no plan B if our bees die out.”

He spoke out in favour of a ban on neonicotinoids just weeks after local beekeepers included an open letter touching on the subject in their monthly newsletter.

The letter, which was published by the Brighton and Lewes division of the Sussex Beekeepers Association, criticised the British Bee Keepers Association (BBKA) for having taken money from pesticide manufacturers.

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It asked: “What measures do you propose to put in place to ensure that the BBKA takes a firm stance against the introduction into our environment of unnecessary toxic chemicals, especially the widely condemned neonicotinoids?”

Although the BBKA has taken thousands of pounds from four companies for endorsing “bee-friendly” pesticides, it too is now seeking an urgent review of the potentially harmful effects of neonicotinoids.

Mr Skinner, the only Labour Member of the European Parliament out of the ten MEPs who represent Brighton and Hove, said: “With food prices at an all time high, bees are hugely important to our local rural economy and environment in the South.”

If bees died out, he said: “The loss of revenue and ability to pollinate our own crops could be disastrous.”

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In January half a dozen MPs, including Worthing West Conservative member Peter Bottomley, sponsored an early day motion in the House of Commons.

The motion, supported by Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas, calls for a ban on neonicotinoids until further tests are carried out.

Their call came after a leaked report from the Environment Protection Agency in America.

The agency’s report cast doubt on whether the current approval regime was sophisticated enough to detect the danger to bees posed by neonicotinoids.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that neonicotinoids were not dangerous if used properly.

The Brighton and Lewes beekeepers are due to hold their next monthly meeting on Wednesday (16 March) at St Thomas’s Church Hall in Cliffe High Street, Lewes, at 7.30pm.

Non-members are welcome.

And Francis Ratnieks, the professor of apiculture and director of the laboratory of apiculture and social insects at Sussex University, in Falmer, is giving a talk on honey bees on Wednesday 23 March.

In a couple of months’ time, two members of the Sussex Beekeepers Association plan to run a one-day Introduction to Beekeeping course.

Amanda Millar and Heather McNiven will hold the £40 practical introductory course on Saturday 7 May and Thursday 26 May from 9am to 5pm in Burgess Hill.

Lunch and refreshments are included. Email heathermcniven@btinternet.com for further information.

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