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Bees: Pesticide restrictions must be extended to wheat - new Friends of the Earth report

Discussion in 'Cropping' started by llamedos, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. llamedos

    llamedos New Member

    05 January 2017

    Bees: Pesticide restrictions must be extended to wheat - new Friends of the Earth report
    Current EU restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides must be extended to wheat to protect bees and other wildlife, Friends of the Earth warns today (Thursday 5 January 2017) in a new report published at the Oxford Real Farming Conference [1,2,3].

    Three neonicotinoid pesticides were banned on flowering crops in December 2013 after scientists concluded they posed a ”high acute risk” to honey bees when used on crops attractive to them. But these chemicals can still be used on other crops.
    One of the restricted neonicotinoids (clothianidin) is widely used on wheat. In 2014 it was used on over 700,000 ha of wheat in the UK. This is greater than the total area of oilseed rape – a crop which is covered by the restrictions [4].

    The Friends of the Earth report found that the use of clothianidin on wheat also posed a threat to bees and other wildlife, for example:

    • Neonicotinoids are normally applied as a coating to seeds. However over 80% of the chemical can leach into the soil, where it can be absorbed by other plants. High levels of neonicotinoids have been found in wildflowers next to wheat crops, and can enter flowering plants attractive to bees if they are grown after wheat. Bees can also be exposed to neonics due to dust drifting away from the crop when treated seeds are sown [5].

    • Studies have warned that birds could be harmed by eating seeds treated with neonicotinoids [6].

    • Global studies have found widespread presence of neonics in water and further studies have found evidence of harm to aquatic invertebrates, such as freshwater shrimp, which could have a knock on impact on fish, including salmon [7].

    • Earthworms, which are critical to soil health, are exposed to neonics in the soil. There is evidence that these pesticides have an impact on worm mortality, reproduction and behaviour [8].

    Studies have also shown these chemicals are harming natural predators: the insects which farmers rely upon for pest control.

    Friends of the Earth is urging DEFRA Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom – who addressed the Oxford Farming conference yesterday – to back the continuation of current restrictions on neonicotinoids, and to support an extension of the ban to cover wheat and all other crops. 18 wildlife and environment groups called for the restriction on neonicotinoids to be extended to wheat last month [9].

    The minister is also being urged to ensure that farmers are supported to help wildlife, including cutting pesticide use, in a post-Brexit farming policy.

    Friends of the Earth nature campaigner Sandra Bell said:

    “There is increasing scientific evidence that the use of neonicotinoids on wheat poses a threat to our bees, birds and butterflies – current restrictions on these pesticides must be extended to cover this crop.
    “We can’t afford to gamble with nature in this way if we are to carry on producing British food and safeguarding the health of our countryside.

    “The UK government must back a complete ban on neonicotinoid pesticides – and commit to helping farmers to grow food without harming the environment as a central part of its post-Brexit farming policy.“

    1. Friends of the Earth’s report.
    2. The report draws on a wealth of research and the practical experience of several case study farmers, and concludes that the use of clothianidin on wheat is an unnecessary risk. The report finds that there are effective non-chemical ways to control wheat pests, especially when combined in an Integrated Pest Management approach – using a range of non-chemical controls with pesticides used only as a last resort.
    3. Friends of the Earth’s report found that encouraging natural enemies, using resistant crop varieties and changing to Spring cropping were all effective ways to control the wheat pests targeted by neonicotinoids.
    4. In 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available) clothianidin seed treatments were used on 721,872 ha of wheat in the UK [Defra, 2014], which is about 38% of the wheat area grown. In the same year 675,000ha of oilseed rape were grown.
    5. Bees won’t be directly exposed to neonics on wheat because this crop is not bee pollinated. However, we now know that neonics are so persistent and mobile in the environment that use on a crop like wheat can still lead to a risk to bees. Between 80-95% of the pesticide does not get absorbed by the plan, but ends up in soil and water. As a result neonic residues have been found in wildflowers next to wheat crops . A new report from EFSA in October 2016 concluded that use of clothianidin seed treatments for wheat is a high risk to bees, or a risk can’t be excluded, because the neonic can be taken up by a following or adjacent bee pollinated crop. Furthermore, there is a high risk due to dust drift when the crop is drilled, which can end up on adjacent crops or wildflowers.
    6. Studies have found that neonics can harm birds such as house sparrows and grey partridge. Even though the law requires that treated seeds be drilled into the soil, observations by the RSPB and others show that inevitably some seeds are left on the surface where they can be eaten by birds.
    7. A study in Canada found neonics in most of the wetlands sampled in an intensively farmed landscape.
    Evidence that neonics may harm freshwater shrimp has led to concerns being raised by Salmon and Trout Conservation UK about indirect impacts on fish that rely on shrimp for food. The Angling Trust & Fish Legal is among the organisations calling for a permanent and extended ban on neonics.
    8. There is evidence that earthworms are more susceptible to neonics than other insecticides and a major review of insecticide use raised concerns that, because of the persistence and movement of neonics in the soil, earthworms will be exposed for extended periods of time (Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA) of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, 2015).
    9. The 18 organisations signed an open letter on 1 December concluding that “The third anniversary of the neonics restrictions is Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s chance to catch up with scientific evidence and public opinion by keeping and extending the ban as part of properly protecting Britain’s bees and pollinating insects”
    waterbuffalofarmer likes this.
  2. static

    static Member

    Will Blackburn, tafka, Jimbo and 5 others like this.
  3. shakerator

    shakerator Member

    Explain this then friends of the earth

    Uncontrolled wild oats in 2012 wheat crop deter treated hammered with BYDV. Wheat crop totally unaffected.

    Conclusion: seed dressing is well targeted to the plants being farmed.

    It doesn't really matter anyway as neonics about off patent and diamide$ ready to replace them Which I'm sure @dontknowanything will find interesting
  4. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    N Herts
    FOE had a really impressive line-up of farmers to help launch the report. Well, one of them was a bit rubbish.

    But I think we all need to find a way of farming without these things because a) they are not very nice and b) the people who eat the food we're growing, don't want us to use them. And I suspect that they (neo-nics in particular and insecticides in general) are causing havoc with all our little friends who make up the soil food web, the crucial livestock that make our soils 'healthy'.
  5. turbo

    turbo Member

    They dont want us to use them but don't give a sh!t if its been treated abroad same with gm crops.
  6. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    Do you have any evidence to back that up? I'm not looking for a fight here but I'd like to see anything significant from soil biologists/no tillers. No links to "peer reviewed" article in crackpot "journals" either please.

    I don't doubt that there will be some seed dressing dust escaping into the immediate margins around the field from a pneumatic seed drill but Bayer are trying to reduce that with their awful Peridium seed coating (that ends up all over the metering unit).
    FOE are far too heavily biased to be impartial IMHO.
    texelburger, dstudent, Refco and 2 others like this.
  7. Timbo1080

    Timbo1080 Member

    As are the RSPB.
    trook135 and Brisel like this.
  8. turbo

    turbo Member

    The No till lot are getting like the organic lot,rattle of any old sh!t say it enough times and gullible people will believe you eventually
  9. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    N Herts
    FOE are undoubtedly biased. The clue is in the name, friends of the earth. Perhaps we'd like them more if they were Friends of the Soil. Probably not, knowing farmers... Maybe 2 days in Oxford at the ORFC has turned me into an old hippy, but it's a valuable lesson for all farmers to talk to consumers about what they want in their food. At a guess, I'd say 0% would like to see more pesticides being used, maybe 1% because there's bound to be the odd Bayer shareholder in the sample.

    I can't provide any 'evidence' that we don't need insecticides, beyond the fact that plants have been growing for millions of years without them. Modern wheat varieties are famously rubbish at looking after themselves, they appear to have been bred in a laboratory and specifically designed to need spoon-feeding with nutrients and chemicals. That said, we haven't sprayed an insecticide here for 2 years at least and we haven't noticed the difference, beyond the obvious things like a healthy population of ground beetles that keep the slugs under control, a booming grey partridge population (their chicks need insect grubs to feed on) and a general feeling of smugness.
    Kiwi Pete, dstudent, Cropper and 9 others like this.
  10. Dan Powell

    Dan Powell Member

    You mean they give a sh!t about the environment. Idiots. Don't they realise that the point of farming is to produce maximum yield of commodity wheat at minimum price to feed tasteless chickens all the while whining about the low price not being enough to buy the latest Fendt. Let's all carry on sleepwalking our way to environmental armageddon. It's fine.
  11. turbo

    turbo Member

    Who says I don't give a sh!t about the environment ?.Just because I don't beleave your armageddon stories dosn't make me care less about it.
    Thomas Simpson likes this.
  12. Barleycorn

    Barleycorn Member

    I haven't used seed dressings for 20 years, well before we went organic, but we always have had a healthy rotation. Always seed out of the barn too.
  13. if foe support organic there are some pretty nasty chemicals allowed for us on organic
    to feed the masses we would need a few million more acres on an organic system
    in a bad weather year like 2012 in the uk of 2016 in france there would be mass starvation

    if we cannot treat bydv then farmers will have to plant wheat much later and put use back 50 years in terms of uk production
    this may help with bg but yields on low bg land will be down
  14. Brisel

    Brisel Member


    This is true but does not concern FOE.
  15. neonocs can be used on wild bird seed mixes planted in the spring

    but as my local bee farmer is always saying
    his biggest problems is varoa and virus combined with the weather
    he spend most of his time trying to prevent hives swarming as once a hive has swarmed it produces less honey is weaker and needs more feeding to get through the winter
    imho to help bees they need to get use to grow large areas of flowering crops
    spring rape and late spring beans subsidy would have a big impact as later flowering crops give a longer period of nector availability
    Clayfarmer, MrNoo and Brisel like this.
  16. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    My beekeeper says the same. Better to have neonic seed dressings than no flowering crops like osr at all, which is where we are heading.

    I think that the greening aims of post Brexit farm support will improve the habitat for pollinators.
  17. Sandra Bell

    Sandra Bell New Member

    There have been several questions here about evidence. The new Friends of the Earth report is based on extensive research into alternatives to neonic seed treatments and on the direct experience of several farmers who are featured as case studies in the report. Three of those farmers (one organic, two conventional) spoke at the Oxford Real Farming Conference about this last week. The importance of natural predators is a key solution identified. But there is now evidence that neonics can harm predators such as beetles as well as other crucial creatures like earthworms. If you are interested in the evidence please look at the report:
    Or you can read a blog summarising it here, but the farmer case studies are in the full report.
    dstudent likes this.
  18. Evidence from friends of the earth?
    That won't be skewed in their favour then will it. :whistle:
  19. it is quite easy to collect pollen from honey bees in large amounts and then measure the chemicals in it
    if chemicals were a big problem we would here about it from studies of pollen

    the foe and rspb are in danger of killing off the pollen and nector producing crops that bees realy thrive on a few acres of pollen and nector will not keep many bees alive compared with 25% of arable land in rape and 15% in bean
    due to inscect pests there will be some countys with no nector producing crops
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
    Hindsight and Brisel like this.
  20. fudge

    fudge Member

    Insecticides don't have to be a "big" problem to tip the balance against bee survival. From reading the latest round of claim and counter claim it would appear to me that FOE view farmers as potential allies in, as they see it, the sustainable management of the UKs habitats. Furthermore they are prepared to argue for agricultural support to achieve those ends. Of course you lads can all thrive without interference from govt, so you can afford to ignore such allies, and hope for a truly free market post brexit.

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