Insects and Insecticides

Written evidence submitted by Bee the Change

Submitted on behalf of Bee The Change, Facebook Awareness Campaigners.

The campaign has 82,636 members worldwide, including 8,153 new members in the seven days ending on October 29, 2012.

The group is campaigning for effective regulation under the Bees Act 1980 to restrict the import of 'Foul Brood' spore infected honey products and for the immediate ban of neonicotinoid pesticides (acetamiprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid or thiamethoxam etc).

These pesticides are closely linked to Colony Collapse Disorder and are not only available to farmers but can be purchased from Garden Centres, for entirely unregulated domestic (garden) use.

1. The British Bee Keeper's Association (BBKA) was until recently endorsing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The organisation was also receiving payment for this endorsement from Agro-Chemical Companies. (McCarthy, January 12 2011).

(a) It is possible to infer that the BBKA may have given erroneous advice, during the period of this paid relationship.

(b) Varroa (honey bee stock depletion) has become established wisdom, despite evidence that Varroa is manageable.

(c) Advice has been to date that the Varroa Mite is mostly responsible for the depletion of bee stocks. However, Varroa management is possible without chemical control and Memorandum #2 (Flores, Sept 11, 2009) shows honey bee adaptations, mitigating Varroa.

2. The use of Agricultural Pesticides is regulated in purchase and use. However Domestic Use (purchased from Garden Centre) is not regulated.

Additionally, bees find diverse (flower) forage in urban environments, arguably better that in a (monocultural) Agricultural Environment.

(a) Does DEFRA have jurisdiction over Domestic Pesticide Regulation?

3. The Bees Act 1980 requires that Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales to agree and decide jointly that a threat is posed to the health of bees. These are now individual powers and devolved to Assemblies

(a) The spirit of 1980 Act of Parliament is towards the protection of Bees from 'pests'. This does not explicitly exclude chemical pesticides, for instance sprayed on gardens/ agricultural areas and where forager bees are able to visit that area (freely). Foragers will pass (as stomach contents) throughout the colony. Chemical may thus be stored in honey, re-affecting the colony at a later time, reducing the statistical correlation of any colony reduction in relation to spraying.

(b) Paragraph 3 of the 1980 Act covers the revocation of licenses to sell chemicals that are a pest to bees.

4. Apiform Colonies, being an organic system, may recover more slowly than expected under removal of any pest threat. This is due to other factors, such as weather conditions which are not under human control.

(a) £1.8bn spending on human hand-pollination (Carrington, April 2012) indicates a financial saving available to the government in the removal of detrimental factors to Honey Bee Stock.

(b) Pesticides are not the only potential contributory factor to Honey bee decline but it is a controllable one. Responsible agencies are therefore required to use this control as part of protection required due to the Bees Act 1980.

5. Public interest in the area of honey bee decline is increasing.

The attached petition gives details on the call by signatories for the banning of neonicotinoid pesticides.

(a) The attached petition shows signatures filtered by country. Additional signatures indicate the worldwide concern over the use of neonicotinoids.

(b) Worldwide pesticide usage demonstrates that there may be no land areas of refuge for pollinator species. (eg. with spraying, seed coating, genetic modification and domestic garden use, many areas of application increases the likelihood of contact with Honey Bee Species, which are irreplaceable.

(c) Please note dangers of 'genetic bottleneck' where reduced numbers of colonies may cause total population crash in the event of colony islandisation, where unmated queens being out of range of male drones from unrelated colonies, if colonies become sporadic and spread out.

6. Petition (as of October 29 2012)

20,362 signatures (Worldwide)

940 Australia (Commonwealth Country)

808 Canada (Commonwealth Country)

9,436 United Kingdom

To: Department for Environment - Food and Rural Affairs, Secretary of State for Scotland, and the Secretary of State for Wales

We the undersigned, Demand that neonicotinoid insecticides products be withdrawn from general sale in UK supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres and farm supply stores according to the Bees Act 1980. Anything that contains acetamiprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid or thiamethoxam must be banned.

Neonicotinoid is a widely used farm pesticide first introduced in the 1990s that has caused significant changes to bee colonies and removing it could be the key factor in restoring nature's army of pollinators, according to two studies released in March.*

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine. Neonicotinoid imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world.* The use of some members of this class has been restricted in some countries due to evidence of a connection to honey-bee colony collapse disorder. The pesticide works as a neurotoxin by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect nervous system.

29 October 2012

Prepared 5th November 2012