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Sprays blamed for bee losses

PUBLISHED: 10:48 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 08:28 28 March 2014

A group of insect-killing sprays are believed to be implicated in the catastrophic loss of honey bees.

The sprays, known as neonicotinoids, which  are widely used in UK farming, have now been banned in four other European countries because they are thought to be killing bees, says the Soil Association.
Italy has just joined Germany, Slovenia and France in banning the sprays. The Italian government also issued an immediate suspension of the sprays after they accepted that they are killing bees.
The Soil Association has now written to Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment, urging him to ban the sprays in the UK with immediate effect.
There is worldwide concern at widespread, unexplained and devastating deaths of honey bees over the last two years. Bee keepers have reported potentially catastrophic loss of bees from their hives ranging anywhere from 30-90 per cent. Britain’s beekeepers have reported that close to one in three hives have failed to make it through last winter and spring.
This ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD) is not just a problem for beekeepers and farmers, but for consumers as well, since bee pollination is essential for crop production. The US Department of Agriculture says that one out of every three mouthfuls of food is dependant on bee pollination, and globally up to two-thirds of all major crops rely on pollination, mainly by bees.
The products implicated in bee deaths, clothianidin, imidacloprid, fipronil and thiamethoxam, are approved to kill insects on a wide range of crops in the UK including very widely grown oilseed rape, barley, and sugar beet. They are also cleared for use in ornamental plant and hop production.

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