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Bee-harming pesticides must be stopped – MPs

The Government must suspend bee-harming pesticides, the environmental audit committee (EAC) has urged.

The UK is currently blocking attempts to introduce a Europe-wide ban on neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides. The committee called for a moratorium on the use of these insecticides by the start of 2014 on crops that bees feed on, such as corn and oilseed rape.

Bees have been in serious decline all over the world in the past few years, due to a loss of habitat, disease and some pesticides.

Joan Walley, the chair of the EAC, said: “The environment department seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy. We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action.”

But the Government states that there is not enough conclusive evidence against the use of neonicotinoids, and chemical companies have condemned the report.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Decisions on neonicotinoids must be based on sound scientific evidence. That's why we want the European commission to agree to our suggestion for a major new field study to get the best, most up-to-date evidence. That will allow informed decision-making, rather than rushing into a knee-jerk ban based on inconclusive studies.”

A spokesman for Syngenta, which makes thiamethoxam, said: “The easy option is to call for a ban on neonicotinoids in the hope that it will improve bee health. The long-term, real world, scientific reality is that a ban wouldn't save a single hive. The decline in bee health is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture and Syngenta remains committed to fully understanding and improving bee health.”

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