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Charity responds to recent announcements on the use of harmful pesticides

5 March 2024

Ahead of a Westminister Hall debate (Tuesday 5th March) on the continued use of Neonicotinoids, Wildlife and Countryside Link has once again called for the phasing out of toxic pesticides and for the government to deliver on its long-awaited strategy on pesticide use.

The organisation has also welcomed the Labour Party’s recent announcement, committing to ending emergency exemptions for pesticides which have been banned in the EU, including Neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids (“neonics”) are a pesticide often used in conventional agriculture to protect crops from pests however the real-world implications of neonics and other pesticides show that these chemicals do not just impact their intended pest targets.

In 2023, Link worked with The Rivers Trust to conduct an analysis of Neonicotinoids using the Government’s own data. The study found that the harmful chemical was present in more than 1 in 10 of the river sites tested across England.

Earlier this year, the Government issued a fourth ‘emergency authorisation’ for the use of the banned Cruiser SB pesticide, despite evidence that it is harmful to insects, bees and other pollinators, as well as a number of river species.

Wildlife and Countryside Link has repeatedly called for the government to hold the industry to account on its promise to phase out the use of Neonics, deliver on its promise of a pesticide strategy and support farmers to reduce their reliance on pesticides through the use of reduction targets.

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link said “Neonicotinoids are threatening wildlife at a time when nature in England is in serious trouble. To have four emergency authorisations in a row makes a mockery of the ban, and now the trigger has been reached, nature will once again have to endure exposure to this harmful chemical.

The government must take urgent action to deliver its long-awaited strategy to help farmers reduce their reliance on pesticides and must hold corporations who buy British crops to their promises to put an end to the presence of neonicotinoids in our countryside.”

On Labour’s announcement pledging to end exemptions for the harmful chemicals Benwell said, “It comes to something when you have to re-ban a banned pesticide, but Labour has sent an important signal today that it would not succumb to industry pressure at the expense of wildlife and nature-friendly farming.”

“With the repeated re-authorisations of Cruiser SB, Government was treating revealing a mindset that environmental protections are optional. All political parties strengthen and abide by environmental law, in particular the legally-binding target to halt nature's decline this decade."

For more information on the environmental impact of Neonicotinoids, you can read our blog here.


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