Comments on the Government response to the Environmental Audit Committee report on “Pollinators and Pesticides”
The Crop Protection Association (CPA) has welcomed the government's response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report on "Pollinators and Pesticides".

CPA Chief Executive, Nick von Westenholz, said "the original EAC report contained no new evidence to justify a call to suspend three widely used neonicotinoid insecticides, and we supported the government's position, when the question was considered by EU member states earlier this year, that a ban was not supported by the science.

"The subsequent suspension of three neonicotinoid insecticides by the EU Commission, in the absence of a political mandate from member states, was a disproportionate reaction to a complex problem. The industry takes extremely seriously its responsibility to place on the market products that present minimal risk to the environment and human health, and there is no evidence that the Commission's decision will lead to any meaningful improvement in pollinator numbers.

"The government's response acknowledges that pesticides deliver substantial benefits to society - a point often overlooked during discussions on this issue. Crop protection products, which include insecticides, are vital tools for farmers and removing them can have serious consequences, both for farmers' businesses and for consumer access to the safe and affordable food they produce.

"Those calling for a ban on these insecticides, including the EAC, have invoked the precautionary principle as a justification, without seeming to recognise the considerable implications of such a move. For instance there will be significant extra costs for farmers across Europe as they turn to alternatives to tackle pests, which in turn will have an impact on the price of food on shop shelves.

"Furthermore, the extra cost of growing oilseed rape is likely to mean a reduced area in the UK of this very important forage crop for pollinators, which can't be good news for bees. "I'm pleased that the government recognises in its response that the reasons for declines in some pollinator populations are complicated and not well understood. They include major factors such as habitat loss, viruses and parasites. We support the comprehensive approach set out by the government to support our pollinators, including its National Pollinator Strategy. Campaigns to blame the nearest chemical must not deflect research effort and resource away from tackling the environmental, pest and disease issues which together present the major underlying challenges to pollinator health."

On the suggestion by the EAC that neonicotinoids should be banned from use in people's gardens, Mr von Westenholz said, "Given that the recently announced moratorium includes garden use of the three insecticides in question, it seems completely disproportionate to call for this to be extended to other products. Insecticides are used sparingly in the garden for the spot treatment of insect infested plants and most flowering plants in the garden are not treated at all. Gardeners widely practice integrated pest management including hand weeding and use of resistant varieties, and pesticides are an integral part of their armoury."

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