Bees and Neonicotinoids

Thank you to those who recently contacted me about neonicotinoids and bees. 

The importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. I believe that this is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees. 

The UK Government has recently confirmed that it supports further restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids due to their effects on bees and other pollinators, and that it will maintain these increased restrictions post-Brexit. I welcome this announcement. 

I am proud that the Labour Opposition has led the way on this critical issue. Indeed, at the 2017 General Election Labour's manifesto committed to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so. 

The European Food Safety Authority is currently reviewing the scientific evidence and there are draft proposals for a full EU ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoids. A vote on these proposals is now expected in early 2018. 

I support a ban on pesticides that are harmful to bees but I also recognise that farmers have to protect their crops. It is therefore vital that we take a science-led approach to pesticide use and consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators. I would like to see further research into identifying suitable alternatives to neonicotinoids and support for integrated pest management measures which would benefit the farming community without posing risks to the environment, and human or animal life.

The case for a permanent ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids is now unassailable and I welcome the developing political consensus on this issue. I will press the UK Government to continue following evidence-based policy. I will also support efforts to enhance the future sustainability of farming and to safeguard future pollinator populations.

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