Neonicotinoid restrictions shroud crop future in uncertainty, says NFU

WITH ONLY days to go before restrictions on crop protection products begin, the NFU has described the lack of an EU impact assessment to determine the effect on pollinators and crop production as ‘alarming’.


The NFU believes that the decision to restrict the use of neonicotinoids, which comes into force from Sunday (December 1), is not justified by the available scientific evidence and could have serious consequences for farmers’ ability to grow produce sustainably.


Evidence published in the summer shows that since the neonicotinoids were introduced in the UK in the early 1990s, the rate of decline of bumblebees in Great Britain has slowed, and the biodiversity of other wild bees has increased. It is suggested that these biodiversity improvements during the last two decades are the result of agri-environmental measures put in place by farmers.


NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “It is alarming that we are about to see these restrictions come into force and there still hasn’t been an impact assessment done to determine whether or not there will be net environmental benefits, or what the scale of impacts on food and ornamentals production will actually be.


“The decision was made by the European Commission, and not supported by all member states because of concerns about the science behind it. It will be producers left to count the on-going cost of a decision made in haste and unsupported by the field-based evidence, which runs contrary to risk-based policy making.


“We are calling on regulators to act to evaluate and answer the key questions posed by this regulation – on the true scale and basis of pollinator decline and the real risk posed by neonicotinoids to pollinators in the wider environment. The full impacts of the restriction are still pending and there is already considerable uncertainty about oil seed rape and linseed plantings in 2014.


“Decision makers should conduct an impact assessment urgently and rethink the decision to restrict the use of what is an absolutely critical product for many farmers.”