The European Union’s policy decision on neonicotinoids has created an environmental disaster says Matt Ridley: All across southeast Britain this autumn, crops of oilseed rape are dying because of infestation by flea beetles. The direct cause of the problem is the restriction on neonicotinoids brought in by the EU last year. As a result, almost 50% of the rape crop will be lost this autumn in the UK.
Even though there was literally no good science linking neonicotinoids to bee deaths in the field, they were restricted for use on flowering crops in Europe. The restriction was brought in simply to ease misguided public pressure on politicians.
All the while, the number of honey bee hives around the world is at a record high.
The number in Europe is higher than it was in the 1990s when neonicotinoids were introduced. Hive mortality in Britain was unusually low in the years before the restriction.
That is not to say that beekeepers do not have problems. The battle against the Varroa mite continues to be hard fought. And beekeepers are genuinely worried about a new threat to honey bees from the small hive beetle which has been found in Italy, a major source of honey bees and queens for British hives. Currently there is free movement of potentially contaminated bees from Italy to the UK.
Matt Ridleys conclusion is short and to the point: Nobody’s taking any precautions about the real threats to bee health.
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