[Valerie Vaz in the Chair] — Neonicotinoids on Crops

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 7th December 2015.

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Photo of Ben Howlett Ben Howlett Conservative, Bath 4:30 pm, 7th December 2015

I would not possibly speak on the Government’s behalf, but I hope the Minister will answer that question by explaining the criteria that will be under consideration.

The EU allows member states to authorise the usage of the banned neonics products to deal with emergency situations that are temporary, limited in scale and controlled, in order to address a danger that cannot be contained by any other reasonable means. The Government granted permission for their use on oilseed rape where the crops are in greatest risk of pest damage. The area that was granted permission, which extends across Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, represents just 5% of the UK oilseed rape crop area. The Government rejected two earlier applications that would have covered 79% of the crop area. I am pleased that the Government accepted the application only for a far smaller area, but I am still concerned about the potential impact of neonics on the bee population in that area.

Field studies have suggested that the levels of exposure experienced by bees in the wild are not sufficient to cause any negative consequences for the pollinators. The problem with relying on that assertion is that there have not been experiments of a significant scale to provide definitive evidence on which to base our approach to neonics. The usage currently authorised by the Government provides a good chance to ascertain on a bigger scale what their impact might be.