The importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I share concerns about declining bee numbers.
I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators because I believe that it is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.
The UK Government has said that current environmental regulations - including the ban on neonicotinoids - will remain in place until we leave the EU. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing the scientific evidence and there are draft proposals for a full EU ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoids. I support such a ban and at the 2017 General Election the Labour manifesto which committed to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so.
It is 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 substitutes 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.
There will soon be a vote on the neonicotinoids ban and I will be urging the UK Government to show leadership within the EU by following evidence-based policy and pressing for a ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids. I also believe that the UK Government must set out how it intends to ensure that existing environmental protections are maintained and enhanced once the UK has left the EU.