UK overrules scientific advice by lifting ban on bee-harming pesticide


An insecticide banned due to its harm to bees will be used on sugar beet in Britain this year after ministers authorised an emergency exemption. The government overruled its own scientific advisers and the decision was called “scandalous” by campaigners.

The neonicotinoid, called thiamethoxam, was banned in 2018 across Europe after a series of studies found it damaged bees. But British Sugar applied for an emergency exemption and on Tuesday the conditions for the exemption were met.

A national forecast of the proportion of the crop expected to suffer from virus yellows, a disease spread by aphids, predicted a level of 69%, far above the 19% threshold that had been set.

The exemption was also granted in 2021 but was not implemented as the forecast for virus yellows turned out to be low. In 2020, according to the government, the virus cut the national yield of sugar beet by a quarter.

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The Guardian, 2-03-22