Marks and Spencer calls for plan to save bees

27th June 2013
news
release

Marks and Spencer has today (Thursday 27 June) called on the Government to create a Bee Action Plan. The retailer joins businesses such as Co-op and B&Q, key scientists, 200 MPs from all parties, and tens of thousands of the British public asking for action on the issue.

The call comes ahead of a summit meeting of key stakeholders tomorrow (Friday 28 June), at which Environment Minister Lord de Mauley is expected to outline the Government’s plans to protect bees from decline.

Friends of the Earth has seen an early draft of the Government’s plans, and fears tomorrow’s announced proposals will be too weak. The environment charity says urgent action is needed to reverse bee decline and protect all kinds of bees, whose numbers have declined dramatically over recent years due to disease, chemicals, loss of habitat, and poor weather.

Bees are vital for pollinating our fruit and vegetables. Without them, it would cost more than £1.8 billion per year to pay farmers to hand-pollinate crops.

Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks and Spencer, said:

“We need bees to produce good quality fresh produce at the right price. At M&S we are already working with our own suppliers to boost bee populations.

“But we need a comprehensive set of measures from Government to ensure that there is help for bees across the countryside and in our towns and cities – that’s why we are backing the call for a National Bee Action Plan.”

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“With leading retailers like Marks and Spencer joining the call for a Bee Action Plan, our voice is louder than ever.

“Bees are worth more than £1.8 billion to our economy every year – the Government cannot afford to ignore the growing momentum from businesses, scientists, beekeepers and conservation groups who recognise that the time for action is now.

“Ministers must give us a plan that tackles all of the causes of bee decline and keeps bees pollinating our food, gardens and countryside”.

ENDS

For press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649

Notes to editor:

1.   Environment Minister Lord de Mauley will announce the Government’s plans to protect bees on Friday 28 June at a Bee Summit hosted by Friends of the Earth alongside Waitrose, the Co-operative and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. The meeting will bring together Government officials, MPs, scientists, farmers, landowners, food retailers and producers to agree on the action required to reverse the decline of all Britain’s bees. The Summit is taking place at the Royal College of Physicians on Friday morning. The event is fully booked. Media wishing to attend the key note speech by Environment Minister, Lord de Mauley, should call Tom Coupe to book a place on 020 7566 1675.

2.    Lord de Mauley is under growing public and political pressure to introduce an urgent Bee Action Plan to tackle the worrying decline in UK bees and other pollinators – not just action on managed honeybees. Almost 20,000 people have signed Friends of the Earth’s petition for a Bee Action Plan in the last five days, calling on Lord de Mauley to tackle all the threats bees face, such as habitat loss.

3.   Eleven leading scientists have this week written to Lord de Mauley to outline the criteria that the Bee Action Plan should meet to be effective.

4.   Friends of the Earth is calling for a Bee Action Plan to be drawn up in-line with scientific evidence, which:

  • Ensures the way we farm our food and plan our towns and cities is good for bees
  • Helps farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce use of chemicals that harm bees
  • Protects Britain’s wild and honey bee species and other pollinators

For more information on why we need a Bee Action Plan see Friends of the Earth’s briefing. To back the cause, see our campaign pages.

5.   Friends of the Earth led the successful campaign earlier this year to persuade the UK’s leading home and garden retailers to voluntarily stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides linked to bee decline.