I share your concerns about a declining bee population and the impact this could have on food production, the economy and our countryside. I have now written to Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs urging her department to commit to a science-led approach to the use of pesticides to help bee populations across the UK recover.
As I am sure you are aware, the EU Commission announced in April 2013 that it would restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to crops that are not attractive to bees and other pollinators for two years after the European Food Safety Authority concluded that three commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides posed an unacceptable danger to bees. Sadly the previous coalition Government opposed the European ban on neonicotinoids, but rest assured I fully support the current EU moratorium on the use of the three main neonicotinoid pesticides.
As you may know, it has recently been reported that the National Farmers Union (NFU) has applied for the ban on neonicotinoids to be lifted this autumn to allow these chemicals to be sprayed on rapeseed in order to help prevent crop damage.
I believe the Government need to reject the calls from the NFU to lift the ban to allow for the effect to be properly analysed. It is important to take a science-led approach to the use of pesticides and to consider how best to support farmers, to protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators.
I also believe that the Coalition Government's 10-year national pollinator strategy for bees and other pollinators, which was published in November 2014, did not go far enough. It does not, for example, tackle habitat destruction, damaging farming practices, bad planning decisions and neonicotinoid use, which are the primary causes of pollinator decline.
I hope the current Government listen to the concerns that have been raised about this issue and I can assure you that will continue to follow developments closely and fight for the protection of our natural environment.
Finally, I was delighted to meet with scores of constituents on Wednesday 17th June to discuss this very issue and wider concerns over climate change.
Below is the response I received from DEFRA Minister George Eustice following my representation to his department: