Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:46 pm on 25th January 2011.

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Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:46 pm, 25th January 2011

I have taken the hon. Gentleman's point on board. I understand it and will try to deal with it as best I can, because I certainly do not want in any way to imply that I am ignoring it or, to use his words, that the Government are being complacent about it. As he and others have said, the Government take pesticide regulation very seriously. All pesticides are rigorously assessed before they are approved for use, although I accept the point made by Caroline Lucas that much of that information comes from the industry that developed them. However, the matter is open to public scrutiny after that by the advisory committee and the regulators, so if there were any implication that somehow those trial results were distorted intentionally, it would quickly come to light.

The conditions of use of a pesticide are set so that pesticides do not pose an unacceptable risk to people or to the wildlife in the countryside, which, of course, includes bees and other pollinators. I emphasise that there is a statutory code of practice about guidance to people who use pesticides on minimising the exposure of bees, including notifying local beekeepers 48 hours before their use.

We continue to fund research on pesticides and pollinators and in relation to monitoring the real-world impact of pesticides on bees. It is being considered as part of the wildlife incident investigation scheme, and we are adding those neonicotinoids that are not already covered to the programme of residues monitoring for honey.

The hon. Gentleman has rightly and understandably referred to the 2009 Buglife report. As he has said, Buglife basically took all the information that was available and reviewed it before publishing the report. The then Government fully reviewed that report and took advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides, and all the key research references were scrutinised and the implications considered. That involved drawing on the regulatory data set and any other publicly available information. The conclusion drawn at that time was that the Buglife report did not raise new issues-it would have been surprising if it had, given that it was simply going over all the information already held-and that it did not require changes to pesticide approvals.