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Bees: UK urged to back Euro ban on pesticides

news release

The UK Government should follow the example of Britain’s leading home and garden retailers by backing European Commission proposals later this week (expected Friday 15 March) to restrict the use of widely-used pesticides linked to bee decline, Friends of the Earth said today.
The call comes shortly before European Member States are due to discuss a proposal by the European Commission to restrict the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides. The move follows a report earlier this year from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which said there was a ‘high acute risk’ from these chemicals.

Over recent weeks Friends of the Earth has revealed that a number of Britain’s leading home and garden retailers are removing insecticides containing the three neonicotinoids identified by EFSA. The firms, which between them operate over a thousand stores and make up a large part of the DIY and Garden Centre sector include B and Q, Homebase, Wickes, the Garden Centre Group (owners of Wyevale and Blooms), Dobbies and Notcutts.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:
“Leading UK retailers have removed pesticides linked to bee decline from their shelves – the UK Government must prise themselves off the fence and take action too.

“Bees are crucial for our crops, gardens and environment – we simply can’t afford to lose them.

“Pesticides aren’t the only threat our bee populations face, which is why the Government must also introduce a bee action plan.”

Last year Friends of the Earth launched the Bee Cause campaign to tackle the decline in bee numbers. The campaign is calling for a Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats to Britain’s 250+ bee species, including pesticide-use and habitat loss. The call for an action plan has so far been backed by nearly a quarter of all MPs (157) from all the main parties. A report published last year revealed that it would cost the UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees.


Contact: Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649

Notes to editors
1. The latest European Commission proposal has yet to be made public but is expected to involve restrictions on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides on plants attractive to honey bees and a ban on amateur use for a two year period. Foe more information please see

2. European Food Safety Authority identifies

3. The UK Government has indicated that will not support the European Commission, saying it wants more time to carry out its own tests. Anumber of other Member States are believed to be trying to water down and delay the proposal.

4. Many of the UK’s leading home and gardening retailers have removed  from their shelves.

5. A number of leading environment and conservation groups are backing European Commission proposals for a ban including Friends of theEarth, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife and the Soil Assocoation. See  (half way down).

6. The UK is home to over 250 species of bee including honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees. Bees are important to our food supply and our economy but they are under threat. Since 1900, the UK has lost 20 species of bee. A further 35 bee species are considered to be under threat of extinction.

7. A report published last year  revealed that it would costthe UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees.

8. Friends of the Earth’s The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to  help bees, and asking the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit The Bee Cause webpage

9. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats,
championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit

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