Invertebrate charity, Buglife, is dismayed that the National Farmers Union (NFU) is ignoring the compelling evidence that neonics have damaged wild bee populations and has again asked Defra to temporarily lift the EU-wide ban on using neonicotinoid seed treatments on insect pollinated crops. There is abundant scientific evidence that neonic seed treatments do not consistently improve crop yields. The ADAS study associated with the NFU’s 2015 derogation showed that there was no difference in oilseed rape establishment between treated and untreated fields.
Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife commented: “It is a significant change of tack for the NFU to ask to only apply to use neonic treated seeds in areas of moderate flea beetle presence, and not in areas with high presence, because they say that neonics are “less likely to be of benefit” in those areas. Surely this is an acknowledgement of the very limited efficacy of neonic seed treatments in controlling flea beetles. This application should be given short shrift by Defra.”
Counter to another NFU claim, pyrethroid resistance in flea beetles pre-dates the partial neonic ban and may well have been triggered by the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments because more than half of the oilseed rape seed treatments contained beta-cyfluthrin, a pyrethroid, and prophylactic use over millions of hectares is the most likely way to foster pesticide resistance.
Buglife is hopeful that the European Commission will take action this year to address the harm neonics are causing to aquatic wildlife by extending the ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments to all crops.