Here in Europe, three insect-killing neonicotinoids are under a temporary ban. During the ban our UK Government is welcoming new research. It’s now become known that pesticide manufacturers might fund some of this research. Vested interests!
Last year my fellow blogger manuelinor at Ecology is Not a Dirty Word told us about scientists calling for the land to be rid of neonics. But soon after that science came out, our UK Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Owen Paterson, at that time) said there wasn’t enough evidence that neonics harm bees. So he assertively refused to vote for or against the ban. One of Mr Paterson’s senior staff, Minister of State David Heath, agreed. Neonics aren’t known to harm bees in the field, said Mr Heath.
I don’t know which of the chemical giants are now offering to pay for science about neonics in the field. But I’m guessing Syngenta and Bayer, who challenged the European ban. Syngenta requested an exemption for autumn-sown oilseed rape (Brassica napus) this year, but soon withdrew that request. Perhaps they think they’ll gain more by paying for evidence.
This is one of the first big issues for Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State who took over from Mr Paterson. Will she use her new power to act for transparent research about neonics?