Bees are essential for this planet’s well-being. Without bees, we will have a crop failure. As we see a decline in the bee population, there is worry about the planet’s effects, pollination, and food shortage. Banned pesticides in the EU are creeping their way back into the UK – especially pesticides that are harmful to bees. Is this true? Let’s have a look.
The UK was one of the strictest of countries when it came to the use of pesticides. Is this going to change? A pesticide’s purpose is to prevent the infestation of plants, keeping away diseases from insects and animals. However, the use of pesticides can be harmful to humans also.
Why is this so concerning?
Bees are vital for our food supply. We are more dependent on them than we know. They are the hardest workers in nature; they pollinate plants and flowers. Without bees, we will see a major shortage of food that we eat regularly. This is a problem for the bee population, but it is also a problem for the human population. Most of our fruit and vegetables are grown due to the help of bee pollination.
How does this pesticide affect Bees?
Neonicotinoid is a similar chemical to nicotine which is found in these pesticides. They are used to suppress any parasite or insect that may carry disease from reaching the plants it is used on. The use of this chemical found in pesticides was banned in Europe in 2013 in order to protect bees’ lives and their population. Neonicotinoids come in different forms, of which were not approved by the European Food Safety Authority. The applications ruled out for using these pesticides on “bee-attractive crops” were ‘“withdrawn”.
The UK has brought attention to them in regards to the enforcement of these harmful pesticides. With the UK leaving the EU, they are going their own way on the control of pesticides. The UK has requested authorisation of the use of Neonicotinoids, the application of the use of chemical pesticides is lethal to the livelihood of bees. The irresponsible decision that can be detrimental to our food pollinators will simply affect the environment and the economy. The lack of pollination will affect the ecosystem, food crops and supply, leading to the economy’s harm.
How will the economy be affected by this?
There is a significant link to crop failure and the economy. Bees pollinate a third of the plant’s we consume, without them, this means that there will no more of these products on the shelves due to the lack of resources.
- “In 2008, the British Bee Keepers Association estimates that honey bees make a significant contribution to the £165 million annually generated for the UK economy through pollination by insects, with the figure put at £200 million in 2009 by the UK’s Public Accounts Committee. Many flowering food crops in the UK rely on honey bees for this service, for example: apples, pears, field beans, runner and dwarf beans, broad beans, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and oilseed rape, with 39 commercial crops reliant on bees in total.”- Sustain.org
This is dangerous for the planet and its inhabitants, and it will harm us and our economy most fearfully. The loss of bees will be a catalyst for disaster, as one-third of our food is pollinated by bees; there is a domino effect with this shortage. Many of the plants pollinated by bees are also used to feed animals, causing a major shortage of food on the shelves and not only fruit and vegetables.
With the severe decrease in beekeeping in the UK, this next step will be damaging to the environment and economy. Once again, Sustain has provided facts on the importance of bees. They write, “Beekeeping has dramatically declined in the UK and in the past one hundred years there has been around a 75% decrease in the number of bee hives. There are an estimated 274,000 honey bee hives in the UK; the majority of these hives are kept by approximately 44,000 amateur keepers.” With one a small percentage of these bees being kept by professional bee-keepers, the wild bees left will be in danger from the harmful pesticide Neonicotinoid.
With the legalisation of the use of Neonicotinoid, will there be a chance for the ecosystem to recover after a certain amount of damage is done? The emergency approval for Neonicotinoid was caused due to the damage that was being done to the sugar beet plants by a plant virus. But why would the UK urge for approval of this pesticide if the EU has outlawed Neonicotinoid for the strict reason that it is extremely harmful to bees? Not only does it kill bees, but it also affects their development: “The EU banned the use of this pesticide in 2018, because of the evidence that weakens bees’ immune systems, harms the development of baby bees brains and can leave them unable to fly”- Chicks for Climate.
Although the emergence of this pesticide was called due to the sugar beet crops, how can we be certain that this will not spiral out of control, effectively causing harm to our planet?
How can we try to stop this?
It can be hard for us to stop this but we can always do the best we can by educating ourselves and becoming more aware of these changes and how they affect the people, animals, and the planet. Thousands of people have signed a petition to get the UK government’s attention, letting them know that they are against this harmful pesticide that is damaging to bees: stop the UK from allowing EU banned bee-killing pesticide to be reintroduced. If you are facing concerns over this try to get involved as much as you can, every vote in a petition counts! As the people of this planet we have the power to make small changes, and the best place to start is our awareness.