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Insects: Electromagnetic Fields

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th February 2020.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the effect on insects of electro-magnetic radiation.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra has supported national and global comprehensive scientific reviews on status and pressures for insects and other pollinators.

In 2014, we published a review of the status and value of pollinators in England and the UK, which we updated last year. We also supported a major global review of the status and threats to insect pollinators, published in 2015 by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. These reports did not identify electromagnetic radiation (EMR) as a significant threat to pollinating insects. Instead they highlighted key threats such as habitat loss, inappropriate pesticide use and invasive species. We have subsequently taken action on each of these.

Further studies have been published subsequently. In 2018, an EU-funded ‘EKLIPSE’ study concluded that “few ecological studies exist, but when they do, the reported EMR effects are negligible, contrasting, or cannot be separated from other environmental factors”.

Scientific evidence on risks to pollinators is continually evolving and we take it very seriously. We continue to work closely with leading UK scientists to keep EMR and other potential drivers of change under review.

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