[Valerie Vaz in the Chair] — Neonicotinoids on Crops

Mike Wood: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way and join others in wishing you a happy birthday, Ms Vaz. Is my hon. Friend familiar with the study by the European Academies Science Advisory Council that shows that, even at sub-lethal doses, the impact of neonicotinoids on pollinators can be such that the reduced crop yields actually offset any benefits from using them as a pesticide in the first place?


Ben Howlett (Bath)

Yes, I have seen that report, and I agree with my hon. Friend about its findings.

The Government have frequently and rightly stated that they will base their future policies on scientific evidence. They admirably said that decisions need to be ruled by science, but if they are committed to that, then proper data must be collected from the crop areas that have been granted permission to use neonics. Because neonics are absorbed so well by plants, residues are found on the pollen and nectar, which consequently affects pollinators. Evidence about the effect of such residues is crucial for future conservation work, so I encourage the Government to consider using approved plots to help to shape future decisions.

The high number of signatures on the petition shows how concerned the public are about the harm that neonics cause to bees and other pollinators. I urge the Government to gather more scientific evidence from the EU’s research and from sites that currently use the banned neonics. I also urge them to consider other types of neonics that are currently authorised but may have a detrimental effect. Since 1990, the UK has lost about 20 species of bees. We cannot afford to keep losing those crucial pollinators.