Insects and Insecticides

Further written evidence submitted by John Hoar

‘The Independent’ (22nd November) reported that FERA is speeding up its field studies and that the Environment Secretary Paterson will ask the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) for an up-to-date view on neonicotinoids in the light of this work.

If you examine Annex 3 of the ACP Annual Reports for the last five years (2007-2011) you will see that 4 or 5 of the ACP independent members declare interests with the pesticides industry. This conflicts with the claim that the ACP is an independent scientific advisory committee.

The role of the pesticide industry is fundamentally different from that of the ACP, which is tasked solely with the protection of the health of human beings, creatures and plants, and to safeguard the environment. Declaring members’ industry interests does not absolve this conflict of interest.

Pesticides are now referred to as ‘plant protection products’. In an article in ‘Chemistry World’ July 2012, the representative from Bayer CropScience refers to neonicotinoid insecticides as being more or less ‘bee-friendly’ and intrinsically ‘bee-safe’. The first is an oxymoron and the second is not proven, yet this is the message the industry sells to the public, farmers and horticulturalists. This sort of nonsense undermines the responsibilities and caution of the users of pesticide products.

Why is the pesticide risk-assessment for bees inadequate, 20 years after the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid was approved as a seed treatment by the Pesticides Safety Directorate in 1993? This aspect alone should be investigated.

It is the responsibility of government to ensure that not only is ACP is independent, but that it is seen to be independent and arrives at the right decisions and recommendations to Ministers. In this respect, any association by ACP with industry undermines this.

I urge you to insist that ACP members with links to the pesticides industry have nothing to do with the forthcomi ng ACP evaluation of FERA field studies.

26 November 2012

Prepared 6th December 2012