Updated 08.06.2016


I would like to update you on the two applications made in April for emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid seed treatments for use on oilseed rape.  These applications were assessed by the Expert Committee and were found not to meet the criteria for authorisation.  Based on this assessment, the applications were rejected by Defra.  The Committee’s advice can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/h4jmcn2


I can assure constituents that the Government continues to believe that decisions on the use of neonicotinoids should be based on the science and that decisions should be made only once regulators are satisfied that they meet safety standards for people and the environment. 


The Government will also continue to do everything it can to boost the vital habitats that bees and pollinators need, as well as encouraging everyone from major landowners to window-box gardeners to play their part. You may like to read of the Bees’ Needs campaign which was launched to raise public awareness here: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs


I would like to update the many constituents who have contacted me over recent weeks with their concerns about the use of neonicotinoids.

I understand that two applications for emergency authorisations, each for two separate neonicotinoid seed treatments for winter oilseed rape, were made in 2015. These applications were considered by the Expert Committee on Pesticides, which advises Ministers on what authorisations can be issued, using evidence about the impact on the environment and public safety and reflecting the relevant criteria for authorisation.

It recommended that the first application, which requested authorisation to use two neonicotinoids on 79 per cent of the national crop area, be rejected as their use was not limited and controlled.   The Expert Committee, and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Chief Scientific Adviser, did however recommend that the second application, which requested authorisation to use two neonicotinoids on only 5 per cent of the national crop area, be accepted. Their use was limited and controlled, subject to stewardship arrangements, and tackled a danger which could not be contained by any other reasonable means.

The minutes from the committee's meeting are available online at http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/guidance/industries/pesticides/advisory-groups/acp/acp-minutes

I can assure constituents that the Expert Committee took all environmental factors into account when making this decision including the increasing resistance to pesticides; the effect on farm biodiversity of using greater quantities of less effective pesticides; and the availability of alternative pesticides and agronomic techniques.  

Furthermore, I understand that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has applied the EU's precautionary ban on the use of neonicotinoids in full, and has made its decisions on pesticides only once the regulators are satisfied they are safe to people and the environment. Based on this evidence it has, therefore, followed the advice of the Expert Committee and the Department’s Chief Scientist that this limited authorisation should be granted to cover areas where crops are at the greatest risk of damage by pests.  

The facility to allow strictly controlled, targeted uses of pesticides under an emergency authorisation is an integral feature of precautionary bans. The Expert Committee had recommended rejecting an earlier application because the proposed use was not targeted closely enough at areas in the greatest need, but concluded that the revised application was sufficiently controlled and limited to warrant approval. The UK's approach stands in contrast to other EU countries such as Denmark, which has issued unrestricted emergency authorisations for the same use of neonicotinoids.

As you are aware, EU legislation sets out the rules for authorising the use of products that are normally restricted in emergency situations to protect crops. I am aware that the Government has received further applications for emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid seed treatments for use on oilseed rape, and these applications are currently being assessed. I will continue to follow the matter closely and will keep constituents updated as soon as there is any news.