Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
Our declining bee population is in the news again. A recent study, the first to have been carried out in realistic, open air conditions, has shown that there is definitely a link between this decline and crop pesticides.
Bee populations around the world have been declining for many years and there has always been an association with pesticide use, the varroa mite and other parasites and the loss of flower rich habitats. Pesticide manufacturers and the UK government have always refused to believe that pesticides have been the cause of bee decline but Germany, France and Italy have suspended use until confirmation one way or another.
Systemic pesticides such as the neonicotinoid group have now been shown to disorientate the bees, making it impossible for them to find their way back to their colony with food. Another effect was that far fewer queen bees were produced and reared. It is estimated that honeybee numbers have fallen by 50% in the US and UK over the last 25 years. As bees pollinate about a third of the food we eat, this can seriously affect the food crops needed to feed an ever growing world population. Scientists have known for a long time that pesticides have an adverse effect on the environment and are implicated in many human diseases but the powerful agrochemical industry holds too much influence and can dismiss the results of research out of hand. Our government goes along regardless – for how much longer?