11 January 2021
The UK Government have authorised neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed.
Mid-Suffolk Green Party Councillor Andy Mellen responded,
“I am disappointed by the DEFRA decision to allow neonicotinoid seed treatment on sugar beet - though I welcome the strict limits imposed on its use. Bizarrely, this decision emerged the same day as Boris Johnson and Environment minister Zac Goldsmith were trumpeting the UK’s concern for biodiversity at a global conference in Paris.
I’m aware that beet growers in East Anglia have suffered significant yield reductions in the 2020 crop partly due to virus yellows, though I suspect that the extreme weather last year also played a role – highly stressed plants are much more susceptible to disease.
As a farmer and beekeeper myself I am concerned about the re-introduction of this pesticide, which has proven ill-effects on invertebrates. Whilst bees do not feed directly on beet, the chemical can be absorbed from the soil by other plants and affect a range of insects. Whilst I’m not aware that we have any global shortage of sugar, we do certainly have a shortage of insects, many of which are in calamitous decline. People should remember that we need those insects to pollinate many of our crops.”
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