Pesticides: Bees

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd August 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed decision on 17 July 2019 to suspend the 2013 European Food Safety Authority guidance on bee safety tests for new pesticides, how the UK voted in that Standing Committee meeting; and what plans he has to prevent the approval of pesticides that can (a) destroy wild bee populations and (b) cause long-term harm to honeybees.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government recognises the need to protect bee populations from the effects of pesticides. This requires an effective scientific means of assessing the risks and enabling sound decisions. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) drew up new guidance on the risk assessment in 2013, however this has not been adopted by the European Commission because a number of Member States had a variety of concerns about whether it was workable. The UK was among those proposing that the EFSA draft should be the starting point but that further work would be needed to develop it.

The Commission has now decided to ask EFS to review the draft and, in the meantime to begin to introduce aspects of the draft that are considered to be more immediately implementable. The Standing Committee vote on 17 July was to make minor changes to the rules on assessing the risks of pesticides so as to reflect the partial implementation of the 2013 draft guidance.

We remain committed to the continuing development of a comprehensive and workable approach to important this issue as we build the national pesticides regime after the UK leaves the EU. We will work with stakeholders to develop an up to date approach that ensures that potential risks to bees can be properly assessed.

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