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Ban pesticides linked to bee deaths, say MPs

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 14.52.49This BBC article relates to our recent posting “We wondered who was killing off all the bees: Shell?” The issue in contention is whether neonicotinoids, first developed by Shell Oil in the 1980s to replace the highly toxic organophosphorus insecticides, are in fact lethal to honeybees and songbirds.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 14.48.43By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News: 5 April 2013


The UK government should suspend the use of a number of pesticides linked to the deaths of bees, a committee of MPs has said.

Members of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee are calling for a moratorium on the use of sprays containing neonicotinoids.

Britain has refused to back an EU ban on these chemicals saying their impact on bees is unclear.

But MPs say this is an “extraordinarily complacent” approach.

Wild species such as honey bees are said by researchers to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world’s crop production.

Stinging criticism

In their report, MPs say that two-thirds of these species have suffered population declines in the UK.

They argue that a “growing body of peer-reviewed research” points the finger at a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

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What exactly are Neonicotinoids?

  • Nicotine is not just lethal to humans in the form of cigarettes, but the chemical is also extremely toxic to insects
  • Neonicotinoid pesticides are new nicotine-like chemicals and act on the nervous systems of insects with a lower threat to mammals and the environment than many older sprays
  • Pesticides made in this way are water soluble which means they can be applied to the soil and taken up by the whole plant – they are called “systemic”, meaning they turn the plant itself into a poison factory with toxins coming from roots, leaves, stems and pollen
  • Sprays like these were praised for being less toxic than many others to beneficial insects like bees when first introduced

“We believe the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action,” said the committee’s chairwoman, Labour MP Joan Walley. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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