Meridian member Catherine Pardoe wrote to Flick Drummond, MP for Meon Valley to express her concern about the recent authorisation of a Neonicotinoid treatment for sugar beet. Here is the response. It only serves to emphasis the need to keep up the pressure. Here is a link to the petition on the Government website Petition
From: Flick Drummond MP<email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2021, 09:43
Subject: Neonicotinoids (Case Ref: FD3515)
Thank you for contacting me about the temporary and limited use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet crops in the UK.
The UK has granted temporary permission for this year for the use of thiamethoxam, alongside 10 other countries in Europe, to provide emergency protection against the viruses which attack sugar beet. These viruses significantly damaged the 2020 sugar beet crop, destroying around 25% of it. This temporary permission has been granted on the understanding that the beet industry will use the time to develop alternative and more holistic solutions.
However, the use of thiamethoxam will only be needed on a very small area of the UK’s farmland. Sugar beet is grown on 0.57% of the farmland in the UK, and not all of it will necessarily be treated. About half the UK’s demand for sugar is met by domestic production, and producing it domestically in controlled conditions is preferable to importing it cane sugar from overseas, potentially from countries which have much weaker environmental laws than we do. The UK’s sugar industry supports 9500 jobs in our economy. It is an important sector of agriculture and one which deserves support in transitioning to alternatives to neonicotinoids.
I will encourage Ministers to engage with the industry to ensure it is able to accomplish this. This is an exceptional case, and the general ban on the use of neonicotinoids remains in place. There is no risk of their use becoming regular, and our departure from the EU does not weaken our position on neonicotinoids or any other pesticide – indeed during our membership of the EU, it was usually the UK which led the way in driving up EU standards.
Protecting pollinators remains a priority for the Government, through the National Pollinator Strategy, published in 2014. This 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. There is more information on the strategy on this link:
The use of any neonicotinoid would only be considered in an emergency and where there is substantial risk of harm to a crop. Through the Environment Bill and the Agriculture Act, the Government is ensuring that the high standards we have always pushed for are strengthened. I maintain close contact with our farmers in Meon Valley, who are responsible in their approach to the environment, and also with a range of wildlife and ecological organisations, including the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, whom I have regular discussions with.
I hope this information is useful to you, and hope that you are keeping safe and well.
Thank you again for getting in touch.
Member of Parliament for Meon Valley