50 years after Silent Spring, 'pesticides still pose wildlife threat'
Friends of the Earth press release
SILENT SPRING 50TH ANNIVERSARY – PESTICIDES STILL POSE WILDLIFE THREAT
Since Silent Spring, widely credited as instrumental in the US ban of the pesticide DDT, there has been no fundamental shift from the reliance on chemicals in farming. And a new generation of neonicotinoid insecticides - which are toxic to bees - are being used in increasing quantities in the UK countryside. Modern weed killers have also created problems wiping out important sources of food for bees.
Despite mounting evidence of the harm that pesticides can cause to pollinators, the Government's draft Pesticide Action Plan issued in July this year failed to set out new measures to reduce chemical use on the crops visited by bees and other pollinating insects.
• Research earlier this year showed an increase in deaths of Queen Bumblebees when exposed to the neonicotinoid imadicloprid
• Italy has suspended use of neonicotinoids since 2008, whilst France has banned the use of the neonicotinoid Thiamathoxam
• In the UK, use of insecticides on the percentage of crop areas treated rose by 86% on strawberries, and 74% on oilseed rape between 2005 and 2010, according to data from the Food and Environment Research Agency.
• Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway, have had pesticide-use reduction plans in place for over a decade. France’s agriculture department says the country can reduce pesticides use by 30 per cent on arable crops without impacting on crop yields or farm income.
Friends of the Earth’s Nature Campaigner Sandra Bell said:
“Fifty years on from Silent Spring we still have a Government that is failing to act to stop the harmful impacts of pesticides on our natural world.
“The UK dragged its feet over banning the highly toxic pesticide DDT, despite strong evidence it was killing birds and now we’re way behind other countries in taking action to protect bees.
“The Government must stop prolonging this issue and suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and set out a clear strategy to help farmers cut their dependence on chemicals.”
1. In Silent Spring, published in 1962, Rachel Carson wrote about the alarming deaths of birds, mainly in the US where she lived, but her work had huge resonance in the UK too. In 1961 more than 6,000 dead birds were reported to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Conservation groups had already started to make the links to the use of highly toxic insecticides such as DDT, but Carson’s book brought this message to a much larger audience.
2. Friends of the Earth research, published earlier this year, found it would cost the UK an extra £1.8billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees. To read a briefing on the report, visit http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/bees_report_briefing.pdf. To read the full report visit http://www.foe.co.uk/beesreport.
3. In a report for Friends of the Earth bee experts at the University of Reading warned that pesticide use had risen by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010 and that more insecticide treatments tend to be applied to bee pollinated crops http://www.foe.co.uk/beesreport.
4. Earlier this month Defra published its review of neonicotinoid pesticides. Despite acknowledging that there is evidence of harm to bees and that not enough is known about the impacts on solitary bees and bumblebees to say that these products are safe the Government decided not to place any restrictions on their use http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13818-neonicotinoid-bees-20120918.pdf
5. In July, Defra published for consultation a draft National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides in order to comply with the EC Sustainable Use Directive. The consultation closes on 22nd October. Despite clear guidance from the EC that member states should set targets for reducing chemicals of concern and measures to move away from chemical dependence the UK draft plan relies mainly on existing initiatives and sets out no new targets or strategies for use reduction. http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/07/30/uknap-pesticides/
6. Research from the University of Stirling shed light on the increase in deaths of Queen Bumblebees: http://www.stir.ac.uk/2012/bumblebee-research/name-23285-en.html. Please read the full report here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6079/351.abstract?sid=d9b7c606-ac5a-4169-bb17-527a9eab4238.
7. The Government needs to follow the example of other European countries. Italy has had suspensions in place on four neonicotinoids since 2008 and there is good evidence that bee populations are recovering. France has recently banned the use of the neonicotinoid Thiamathoxam due to concerns about its impact on bees. Use of the same chemical in the UK has increased substantially over the past few years.
8. Friends of the Earth’s The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees, and asking the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit The Bee Cause webpage www.foe.co.uk/bees.
9. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.u blog comments powered by Disqus