The Scottish Wildlife Trust is calling on the Scottish Government to halt the use by farmers of neurotoxic chemicals that threaten to wipe out bees.
The latest research into neonicotinoids indicates that their continued use could have a catastrophic effect on insect pollinators, particularly threatening Scotland’s fruit growing industry. Insects that feed on contaminated pollen and nectar including honeybees and bumblebees lose the ability to navigate efficiently and may not make it back to their colonies.
Insect pollinators form a vital part of the food chain for wildlife including birds, amphibians and reptiles. If numbers are dramatically reduced, a wide range of species and natural processes could be under threat.
The latest research, published in Science, goes against the UK Government’s conclusion that this group of insecticides do not threaten bee populations. The UK Government’s stance- to continue the use of these chemicals- is also the position currently adopted by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government do have the power to unilaterally ban the chemicals in Scotland.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Simon Milne has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead, urging the Government to halt the use by farmers of all products containing neonicotinoids.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust wants its members and supporters to write to the Cabinet Secretary expressing their concern.
Scottish Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Simon Milne said:
“There is a growing body of evidence showing the detrimental effect of neonicotinoids on important pollinating insects, which were never supposed to be the target species. These insects provide a free service pollinating Scotland’s crops and it has been estimated that this is worth £43 million per year. The Scottish Government should adopt the precautionary principle and place a moratorium on their use on all crops in Scotland.
“The process for approving insecticides containing neonicotinoids does not fully test the impact on insect pollinators. This scientific evidence has led other European countries to impose restrictions on the use of the chemical. It’s time for Scotland to take a stand too.”
Professor Dave Goulson, leader of the research group which conducted the trial on the potential effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebees earlier this year said:
“The widespread use of neonicotinoids is likely to be having a significant impact on wild bee populations. Until further research can be carried out, I support a moratorium on use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops.”
Prof. Goulson also questions the prophylactic use of pesticides, which is contrary to the long-established principle of pest management that chemicals should only be used when there is a pest problem. Prof. Goulson continued:
“Prophylactic use is highly likely to lead to resistance in pest species.”