Neonicotinoid ban hit UK farmers hard

October 3, 2014

From: The Guardian

Bugs devour rapeseed crop in Britain as EU ban on pesticide to save bees comes into force

Louise Gray


Peter Kendall surveys his crop of oilseed rape. At this time of year, he should usually be looking at healthy green cotyledons (young shoots), but the leaves are full of holes.

The driest September on record has meant a plague of flea beetle. The pest is normally controlled by coating the seeds in a systemic pesticide called neonicotinoid.

The chemical, related to nicotine, is absorbed by the plant as it grows, making it resistant to bugs and viruses.

The trouble is that the neurotoxins stay in the plant when it flowers and scientists are concerned that later in the season this could be taken up by bees and other foraging insects.

Last year three neonicotinoid seed treatments used by British farmers on autumn sown oilseed rape were banned by Brussels because of the risk to bees. This is the first year the ban has come into force, and farmers say they are struggling.

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