Success: UK Will Support Banning Pesticide That Endangers Bees

Target: Michael Gove, UK Environment Secretary

Goal: Applaud the UK for supporting a complete Europe-wide ban on neonicotinoids, chemicals that endanger bees and other wildlife.

In December, the European Union will vote on whether or not to completely ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Although the UK initially opposed bans on neonicotinoids, Michael Gove has recently announced that the UK will now support a full ban of these pesticides. Thanks to UK support, numerous European environmental groups, and petitions like this one at ForceChange, it now seems likely that the complete ban will pass.

There has been some controversy about the effect of neonicotinoids on bee populations. Bees are exposed to relatively low levels of neonicotinoids. Because these low levels do not generally kill bees outright, some have argued that neonicotinoids are not dangerous to bees. But new studies have shown that neonicotinoids affect bee colonies in more subtle ways. These pesticides seem to interfere with bees’ ability to reproduce. A study of bee colonies in the UK, Germany, and Hungary found that colonies exposed to neonicotinoids had lower reproductive success. Other studies have shown that neonicotinoids reduce the number of eggs laid by queen bees and that they reduce the sperm production of male bees by almost half. So although neonicotinoids may not directly kill bees, a colony that can’t reproduce effectively will eventually die out.

Although most of the research on neonicotinoids has focused on the impact of these pesticides on bees, the environmental implications may, in fact, be much broader. Although neonicotinoids have not been directly implicated, increased use of pesticides has been suggested as a potential cause for the 75% drop in flying insect numbers in Germany. Furthermore, a recent study from the University of Saskatchewan found that neonicotinoids are also toxic to songbirds. Birds exposed to this pesticide experienced significant weight loss and altered migratory patterns, which might affect their ability to successfully breed.

Banning neonicotinoids is an important first step in the protection of bees. However, bees face many other threats including habitat loss, air pollution, and disease. Sign this petition to applaud the UK’s support of the neonicotinoid ban and to encourage the UK to continue to take steps to protect bees.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Gove,

I am writing to thank you and your colleagues for supporting the ban of neonicotinoids in Europe. There is strong scientific evidence that these pesticides are a major threat to bees and preliminary evidence that they may have wider negative effects on the environment, including damage to other flying insects and even songbirds.

The reduction in bee populations presents a huge threat to food security, both in the UK and globally. Over three quarters of all food crops must be pollinated, and the output of these crops would decline dramatically without bees. Bees are also essential for the pollination of crops that produce biofuels. Many nations in Europe currently have far too few bees to pollinate their crops, with huge bee deficits reported in the UK, France, Italy, and Germany.

I applaud you for taking this important first step in protecting bees in Europe. I hope that other countries will follow your example.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John Campbell

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3 Comments

  1. Jacqui Skill says:

    kudos to UK!The U.S. needs to do the same!!

  2. Finally a leader with intelligence!
    The world needs to follow or all will be damned by starvation!

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