The UK took the decision to support restrictions prohibiting the outdoor use of three neonicotinoids because, based on the scientific evidence, Ministers were not prepared to put our pollinator populations at risk. The evidence on the toxicity of these chemicals to bees and their persistence in the environment means that the clear advice of scientific advisers is that these restrictions continue to be justified.
The decision to restrict the use of neonicotinoids has affected the ability of farmers to control aphids and virus yellow disease, particularly in some areas of the country, and sugar beet growers have suffered significant yield losses this year because of these difficulties.
The Government continues to support the restrictions on neonicotinoids to protect pollinators, but will consider applications for emergency authorisations under the current rules. Emergency authorisations can provide short term availability of a product if the applicant can demonstrate that this addresses a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means, that the use will be limited and controlled and that the necessary protection of people and of the environment can be achieved.
Protecting pollinators is a priority for the Government. The National Pollinator Strategy, published in 2014, is a ten year plan which sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of the approximately 1,500 pollinating insect species in England. Minimising the risk to pollinators from pesticides is one of the aims within the strategy and encourages steps to minimise pesticide usage.