The UK must not allow the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticides. [Photo: Bigstock]

Asking our MPs to save the bees!

1 July, 2015

The plight of our declining bees is of concern to all of us. We need bees to pollinate most of our food crops and wild flowers, and they play a crucial role in supporting wider biodiversity.

As part of our continuing mission to Bee Lovely and Help Save the Bees, our staff, customers and social media followers have lent their support to a petition asking Lynn Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, not to allow any exemptions to the European ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, following a request from the National Farmers Union to use the banned pesticides on rapeseed crops this autumn.

MPs know the risks

In 2012 Defra outlined the severity of the decline of, and threat to, bees to MPs:

‘There has been a severe decline in the diversity of wild bees in the countryside…England has the greatest decline of anywhere in Europe. Since 1900, the UK has lost 20 species of bee. A further 35 bee species are considered to be under threat of extinction.’

The threat to bees is not restricted to the UK with the recent European Red List for Bees showing that nearly one in ten species of wild bees are facing extinction. There are several widely acknowledged and inter-linked causes of bee decline including loss of habitat, use of pesticides, spread of pests and diseases and increasingly, climate change.

photo of NYR's Lou Green at Westminster

NYR’s Lou Green and Nisha Popatlal bent MPs ears about banning dangerous neonics while giving them soothing hand massages

These were recognized in the National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) drawn up by the last Government.

But although the NPS claimed to address all the causes of bee decline it failed to set out effective action to address the use of pesticides. In addition the UK Government has consistently denied the need for restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides introduced by the EU in 2013, although it has to comply with the restrictions. The Government is currently considering whether to allow an ‘emergency authorisation’ for use of these chemicals this autumn.

On Weds 17th June, Lou Green, NYR Head of Campaigns, and Nisha Popatlal, therapist and part of our Marylebone team, attended a parliamentary event at the Palace of Westminster. Organised by campaigners 38 Degrees and Friends of the Earth.

The Big Event

The event was designed to keep up the pressure on MPs to uphold the temporary ban of neonicotinoid pesticides.

Professor Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology, University of Sussex, author and founder of the Bee Conservation Trust led the way with an impassioned and very informative presentation on the dangers of neonics to bees and other wildlife, followed by a panel discussion with Vanessa  Amaral-Rogers, Campaigner, Buglife, Barry Gardiner, MP (Labour), Caroline Nokes, MP (Conservatives) and Caroline Lucas, MP (Greens) discussing the future  of bees and the nation’s need to act.

Giving MPs a hand (massage)

Over 160 MPS attended the event – far exceeding expectation – and can we suggest that it was the aroma of our Focus Aromatherapy Blend drifting through the musty corridors of Westminster and the lure of a hand massage from Nisha using our Bee Lovely Hand Cream that drew so many?

Thanks to the efforts of our stores, which all pitched in to collect signatures, in just one week we added over 600 signatures to the 38 Degrees Bee petition, bringing the total to over 330,000, and have directed many more to the online petition through social media.

Neal’s Yard Remedies was once of the first in the UK to alert people to the risks of neonics, through our Bee Lovely campaign which began in 2011. Since then we’ve raised over £60,000 for bee-loving charities through the sale of our Bee Lovely range of products.

It’s up to all of us to keep the pressure up. The UK should not allow the use of restricted chemicals, where there is clear evidence of harm to insect pollinators, to be used this autumn.

Take a moment now to sign the 38 Degrees petition to Keep the Ban on Bee-Killing Pesticides