[Valerie Vaz in the Chair] — Neonicotinoids on Crops

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:24 pm on 7th December 2015.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow Conservative, Taunton Deane 5:24 pm, 7th December 2015

We have all buzzed back from voting. I will try not to drone on for too much longer.

On a serious note, not so long ago everyone had dire memories of the pesticide DDT. The lesson to learn from that is that we must not take risks. In the 1980s I remember sitting in the Agriculture Select Committee’s inquiry into agricultural pesticides which looked in particular at the effects of sheep dip on human health, and this issue is as serious as that, as I think hon. Members would agree.

I want to refer to research on apple tree pollination, as did Daniel Zeichner. We know how important bees are for pollinating the apple crop. Recent research at the University of Reading found that bumblebees who had been exposed to neonics visited fewer trees and collected less pollen than those who had not been exposed. When the researchers cut the apples open, they found a third less pips than would be expected. Pips are an important sign of good pollination, and good pollination and lots of pips means good quality fruit, which is not just good for us and our health, but valuable to the farmers.

Interestingly, it was discovered that bees exposed to neonics spent much longer foraging but were less effective than those who had not been exposed. That is odd, because that means that those bees were not looking for food, which is what bees should be doing.