UK grants emergency use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticide; Govt overrules scientific advice

An emergency exemption has been authorized by the ministers in Britain to use insecticide a type of pesticide almost entirely banned in the EU because of the harm it can cause bees. The government annulled its own scientific advisers, and campaigners called the decision an “exception”.

This type of insecticide is a neonicotinoid-class insecticide, which has been earlier cited as a harmful insecticide to the bees has now received its emergency use approval. Earlier, in 2018, the insecticide was banned in entire Europe, after it was found that it could harm bees. However, in the recent decision, the use of it would be subject to strict conditions, said a Defra spokesperson, BBC reported.

Earlier, it was cited that the insecticide could damage the nervous systems and navigational abilities of bees and other pollinators. The pesticides can also end up in streams and rivers and harm aquatic life and can persist for a long time in the environment.

The government now authorizes thiamethoxam- a type of insecticide to be used to sugar beet in Britain due to its potential risk of viruses, spread by aphids, which can severely damage crops. It estimates that almost 70% of the national sugar beet crop could be affected.

Since 2021, the lif of the insecticide ban was in place but has not yet been amended due to low forecast in virus yellows. In 2020, according to the government, the virus cut the national yield of sugar beet by a quarter.

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On the other hand, “We evaluate the risks very carefully and only grant temporary emergency authorizations for restricted pesticides in special circumstances when strict requirements are met and there are no alternatives.” The chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Craig Bennett, criticized the decision.