Category Archives: Farming

Wildflowers cut pesticide use.

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying.
The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops.  See the Guardian newspaper report: –

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/31/stripes-of-wildflowers-across-farm-fields-could-cut-pesticide-spraying

Not safe to use pesticides at industrial scales

The assumption by regulators around the world that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false, according to a chief scientific adviser to the UK government.  See The Guardian newspaper report …..

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/21/assumed-safety-of-widespread-pesticide-use-is-false-says-top-government-scientist

New Research Shows Risk to Bumblebee Extinction

THE GOVERNMENT MUST BAN BEE-HARMING PESTICIDES AS NEW RESEARCH SHOWS RISK TO BUMBLEBEE EXTINCTION

The government must act to permanently ban bee-harming pesticides says
Friends of the Earth as new research from Royal Holloway University suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a risk of bumblebee extinction.

The research showed that queen bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were
26% less likely to be able to start a new colony.

Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back moves in the EU to
permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and
commit to keeping any ban post-Brexit.

Responding to the research, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature
campaigner, said:

“This new study comes hot on the heels of the largest field trials of
neonicotinoids showing harm to honey bees and wild bees. It also follows
new evidence of how these pesticides leak into the environment and turn up in
wildflowers posing further risk to bees.

“It is clear that use of these chemicals on any crop poses a risk to bees
and other wildlife. The Government has repeatedly said it will follow the
science – how much more science does it need before it acts to protect our
precious bees?

“Michael Gove must put his support behind a comprehensive ban on
neonicotinoid pesticides across the EU and continue the ban in the UK
post-Brexit”


*Editor’s notes:*

1) Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common
neonicotinoid pesticide, which could lead to collapses in wild bee
populations, according to new research [1] in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Guelph have found
that exposure to thiamethoxam, a common pesticide, reduced the chances of
a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.

2) In June 2017 a pan-European field study was published [2] providing
evidence that neonicotinoids harm honeybees and wild bees. Covering a
crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches, it was the biggest yet
real-world study of these pesticides. Undertaken in the UK, Germany and
Hungary, the experiment found : Increasing levels of neonicotinoid
residues in the nests of wild bee species was linked with lower
reproductive success across all three countries; Exposure to treated
crops reduced overwintering success of honeybee colonies – a key
measure of year-to-year viability – in the UK and Hungary.

3) Another study [3] this year, carried out on corn farms in Canada, found
crops were not the main source of neonicotinoids to which bees were
exposed. Instead, the contaminated pollen came from wildflowers, as has
also been shown in the UK. Nadia Tsvetkov, at York University in Canada
and who led the research said that “This indicates that neonicotinoids,
which are water soluble, spill over from fields into the surrounding
environment, where they are taken up by other plants that are very
attractive to bees”.


[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0260-1

[2]https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/neonicotinoid-pesticides-harm-honeybees-wild-bees-first-pan-european-field-study

[3] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1395

Landmark study shows pesticides damage bee colonies

The Guardian newspaper reports –

“Widely used insecticides damage the survival of honeybee colonies, the world’s largest ever field trial has shown for the first time, as well as harming wild bees.

The farm-based research, along with a second new study, also suggests widespread contamination of entire landscapes and a toxic “cocktail effect” from multiple pesticides.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows

BBC report – Pesticide ‘reduces bumblebee queen egg development’

“Use of a common pesticide in spring could have an impact on wild bumblebees by interfering with their life cycle, a UK study suggests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39783990

The team, who looked at wild bumblebees caught in the English countryside, say the insecticide, thiamethoxam, reduces egg development in queen bees.

They say this is likely to reduce bee populations later in the year.

Thiamethoxam is one of three neonicotinoid insecticides currently restricted for use by the EU.They have been restricted amid concerns about their impact on wild bees.

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society – B, investigated the impact of thiamethoxam on four species of bumblebee queen which had been captured in the wild in spring.”

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1854/20170123

Farms could cut pesticides without loss

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/06/farms-could-slash-pesticide-use-without-losses-research-reveals

The new research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Plants, analysed the pesticide use, productivity and profitability of almost 1,000 farms of all types across France. By comparing similar farms using high or low levels of pesticides, the scientists found that 94% of farms would lose no production if they cut pesticides and two-fifths of these would actually produce more.

The results were most startling for insecticides: lower levels would result in more production in 86% of farms and no farms at all would lose production.

The research also indicated that 78% of farms would be equally or more profitable when using less pesticide of all types.

Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticides?

Draft regulations seen by the Guardian newspaper reveal the European commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’

The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/23/europe-poised-for-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

“A legal loophole in an EU moratorium on pesticides”

POLITICO a Brussels based publication says:-

“From Suffolk in the U.K. to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, Europe’s honeybees are facing a new threat: a legal loophole in an EU moratorium on pesticides.

Environmentalists had hoped that a 2013 temporary EU ban on pesticides suspected of impacting bee health would offer some respite to the Continent’s collapsing colonies. But 13 European governments have provided farmers and pesticide producers with permission to sidestep the regulations.”

http://www.politico.eu/article/europes-lost-colonies-bees-neonicotinoids/

Pesticide restrictions must be extended to wheat – new FoE report

Current EU restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides must be extended to wheat to protect bees and other wildlife, Friends of the Earth warns today (Thursday 5 January 2017) in a new report published at the Oxford Real Farming Conference.

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/bees-pesticide-restrictionss-must-be-extended-wheat-new-friends-earth-report

https://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/farming-wheat-without-neonicotinoids-102577.pdf

Three neonicotinoid pesticides were banned on flowering crops in December 2013 after scientists concluded they posed a ”high acute risk” to honey bees when used on crops attractive to them. But these chemicals can still be used on other crops.
One of the restricted neonicotinoids (clothianidin) is widely used on wheat. In 2014 it was used on over 700,000 ha of wheat in the UK. This is greater than the total area of oilseed rape – a crop which is covered by the restrictions.

Pesticide restrictions must be extended to wheat – Friends of the Earth report

Current EU restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides must be extended to wheat to protect bees and other wildlife, Friends of the Earth warns today (Thursday 5 January 2017) in a new report published at the Oxford Real Farming Conference.

Three neonicotinoid pesticides were banned on flowering crops in December 2013 after scientists concluded they posed a ”high acute risk” to honey bees when used on crops attractive to them. But these chemicals can still be used on other crops.
One of the restricted neonicotinoids (clothianidin) is widely used on wheat. In 2014 it was used on over 700,000 ha of wheat in the UK. This is greater than the total area of oilseed rape – a crop which is covered by the restrictions.

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/bees-pesticide-restrictions-must-be-extended-wheat-new-friends-earth-report