For a considerable time controversy has reigned over the use of Neonicotinid pesticides. The EU banned their use on flowering crops in 2013. The UK opposed the ban and made provision for an emergency lifting of such restrictions, which were exercised in 2015, although it has rejected similar calls from the NFU this year. Serious concerns have been raised across Europe at the declines in bee populations and the subject has been pursued in earnest in the UK to little effect, with parts of the scientific community and commercial interests arguing over the veracity of research results. In other words, within the UK , the situation has been an absolute mess, with DEFRA's role under the stewardship of Liz Truss ( until recently Secretary of State for the Environment ) being an unmitigated disaster. This is certainly a situation where we were not overseen by EU regulation, but that the UK's own chosen path then being ill defined, inconsistent and a near lottery arising usually from plea bargaining by the NFU.
Red-tailed Bumblebee courtesy of BugLife
Now research, completed by the University of Berne, Switzerland, has placed a new perspective on the whole issue. It has been shown that the use of Neonicotinids cuts bee sperm down by as much as 40% which clearly will have an utterly drastic effect on hive communities and natural populations and appears to have done so in the last few years. Click on the link below to read the full article from The Guardian and better explanatory detail.
Neonicotinids under the spotlight
In the light of these research findings it will be interesting to see what the future response of DEFRA might be given applications for use of the pesticides are usually made in advance of them being applied in autumn. Previously the recent response had been clear (thankfully ), but the situation appears to be even more convincing now and one might even suggest provide the basis for a review of the Government's current stance and the ban being invoked in the UK on a once and for all basis. Details of the previous attempts to gain emergency usage can be followed via the link below.
Emergency usage of pesticide rejected.
Interestingly, support for the non-use of such pesticides has recently come from ALDI, who have declared they will not make available products where such pesticides have been used. WELL DONE, ALDI !
Now , there is an even more interesting twist to all this ! Oh yes, and one which appears not to receive the exposure it might well deserve. I first saw details on this on a TV programme , but further research shows it has received regular "treatment" by newspapers, health magazines etc over the past few years. Those wonderful crops of oil seed rape, which admittedly bring a blaze of colour to our countryside, go on to be processed and appear on our supermarket shelves as Sunflower Oil. Now we've all been subject to persuasive, promotional material vouching the benefits for health of using such cooking oils but there may well be another aspect to it all.
Heating such oil, particularly Sunflower Oil, to 180C releases aldehydes which are deemed harmful to health and a contributory cause to cancer ! I didn't know, indeed I've been a keen advocate of such use. Read the article via this link and ( possibly ) be surprised.
Vegetable oils release toxic chemicals
Now it seems to me, naive or not, that we are growing particular crops, treating them with pesticides, which are demonstrably harmful to, if not decimating, the insect populations that pollinate many other flowering crops associated with food we eat and thereby causing a problem, only to be left with a product ( sunflower oil ) that appears potentially harmful to ourselves in the end. In the meantime, production goes on, profits are made, subsidies paid (? ), and to what end? Our natural heritage is poorer, our health appears to be involved and yet the likes of the NFU continues to petition for greater usage of such pesticides in order to minimize financial losses by its members (read ensure profits ). Quite honestly I wonder whether we should feel any sympathy for farmers whose enthusiasm for a particular crop no doubts links closely to the width of its profit margin !! Time for honesty and the whole shebang to be thought through and clear advice and regulations issued, in other words DEFRA, stop fiddling around and provide the electorate with what is needed.