Homebase will stop using neonicotinoids

Garden centre and retail giant Homebase has announced it will stop using bee-harming pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Homebase has agreed to stop using these chemicals on garden plants. And it will clear its shelves of garden products containing neonicotinoids by the end of 2018.

Report from Friends of the Earth UK:

https://www.foe.co.uk/bees/homebase-finally-says-no-beeharming-pesticides

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B & Q will stop using neonicotinoid pesticides

Some good news in the latest Autumn edition of Butterfly.  B & Q have agreed to stop using neonicotinoid pesticides on their flowering plant range from Feb 2018. They have taken note of research showing that neonicotinoids are harming bees and birds and may be contributing to the decline of butterflies as well.

Here’s the link to the relevant Butterfly Conservation webpage.

https://butterfly-conservation.org/48-15805/bc-welcomes-bq-move-to-drop-neonicotinoids.html

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The scale and speed of environmental collapse is beyond imagination.

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/23/insectageddon/

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 20th October 2017

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming. ……..

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National Botanic Garden of Wales research has revealed which plants bees choose for their pollen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-39003201

Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.

Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.

Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.

Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.

Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.

“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.

“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”

The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.

Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.

The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.

Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.

Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.


 

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Warning of ‘Ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

The Guardian reports that a recent study shows the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers

Full report at:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

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Research shows world-wide contamination of honey by neonicotinoid insecticides.

New research carried out by Dr. Alexandre Aebi from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland published in the journal Science shows that three quarters of the honey samples found in a world-wide study showed traces of at least one neonicotinoid.

198 honey samples were taken from every continent except Antarctica. One third of the samples contained levels of pesticide that were harmful to bees. However the amounts were well below maximum permitted levels in food for humans. More worryingly a “cocktail effect” of more than one insecticide was found in 45% of the honey samples.

The authors of the study, who believe in operating the precautionary principle, say that a permanent EU-wide ban, as proposed in France, is the best solution. A spokesman for the manufacturers maintained that the results were inconclusive due to the small sample size.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41512791

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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

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No neonicotinoids on 9/10 garden centre plants

Nine of the top 10 leading garden retailers and garden centres don’t want the flowering plants they sell to be grown with bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides and have told suppliers not to use them, a Friends of the Earth survey  reveals.

However, one of the biggest garden retailers – Homebase – has yet to commit to working with suppliers to end the use of restricted neonicotinoids, despite being contacted by thousands of people via a Friends of the Earth online action ….

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/homebase-urged-act-after-most-top-garden-retailers-say-no-bee-harming

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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

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Plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticides

Ornamental plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticide residues with implications for the health of pollinating insects
Lentola, A, David, A, Abdul-Sada, A, Tapparo, A, Goulson, D and Hill, E M (2017) Ornamental plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticide residues with implications for the health of pollinating insects. Environmental Pollution, 228. pp. 297-304. ISSN 0269-7491

http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/67224/

Garden centres frequently market nectar- and pollen-rich ornamental plants as “pollinator-friendly”, however these plants are often treated with pesticides during their production. There is little information on the nature of pesticide residues present at the point of purchase and whether these plants may actually pose a threat to, rather than benefit, the health of pollinating insects.

Using mass spectrometry analyses, this study screened leaves from 29 different ‘bee-friendly’ plants for 8 insecticides and 16 fungicides commonly used in ornamental production. Only two plants (a Narcissus and a Salvia variety) did not contain any pesticide and 23 plants contained more than one pesticide, with some species containing mixtures of 7 (Ageratum houstonianum) and 10 (Erica carnea) different agrochemicals. Neonicotinoid insecticides were detected in more than 70% of the analysed plants, and chlorpyrifos and pyrethroid insecticides were found in 10% and 7% of plants respectively. Boscalid, spiroxamine and DMI-fungicides were detected in 40% of plants.

Pollen samples collected from 18 different plants contained a total of 13 different pesticides. Systemic compounds were detected in pollen samples at similar concentrations to those in leaves. However, some contact (chlorpyrifos) and localised penetrant pesticides (iprodione, pyroclastrobin and prochloraz) were also detected in pollen, likely arising from direct contamination during spraying. The neonicotinoids thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid and the organophosphate chlorpyrifos were present in pollen at concentrations between 6.9 and 81 ng/g and at levels that overlap with those known to cause harm to bees.

The net effect on pollinators of buying plants that are a rich source of forage for them but simultaneously risk exposing them to a cocktail of pesticides is not clear. Gardeners who wish to gain the benefits without the risks should seek uncontaminated plants by growing their own from seed, plant-swapping or by buying plants from an organic nursery.


http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/garden-centres-selling-bee-friendly-plants-pesticides-harmful-neonicotinoids-a7734516.html


https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/encourage-wildlife-to-your-garden/plants-for-pollinators


 

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