Neonicotinoid ban ‘makes little sense’, say farmers

The EU’s decision to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides “makes little sense”, according to a recent survey of farmers.

Last week the government reiterated its belief that the ban on neonicotinoids is “unnecessary and unjustified”, saying it rejected the science behind the ruling.

In the wake of the government’s published view, the Kleffmann Group, partnered in the UK by Independence Business Resource Limited (IBR-Ltd), carried out its own survey of farmers in the UK and Germany on the subject.

The survey of 400 British and 1,113 German farmers showed that farmers agreed with the government that to ban these insecticides makes little sense.

From December, the use of products containing three neonicotinoid active ingredients – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – will be forbidden in several crops, including oilseed rape, maize and sunflowers, across the EU for a two-year-period.

The ban on neonicotinoids, which are used as seed coatings, follows a recommendation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded they pose a “serious risk” to bee health.

For the survey, farmers were asked about their past use of neonicotinoid seed treatments and what they thought about the ban.

When asked how they evaluated the general impact of the ban on this group of pesticides, 42% of German farmers and 29% of British farmers said it “made no sense at all”, with just 6% of German and 1% of British farmers saying it “really made sense”.

Seventy-four percent of UK and 58% of German farmers said they had used neonicotinoid seed dressing in their winter oilseed rape.

Farmers were asked if the ban would affect their choice of oilseed rape variety; 36% of German and 27% of UK farmers said it would make a “significant impact”.

And 60% of UK and 52% of German farmers said the ban would have a significant impact on their crop protection programme.

Finally, when farmers were asked which manufacturer of seed dressing products they associated with neonicotinoids, most did not know (71% in UK and 61% in Germany).

But those that did express a view said Bayer CropScience (36% of German and 20% of UK farmers) and Syngenta (6% of German and 16% of UK farmers).

Roger Pratchett, director of IBR-Ltd, said: “Both German and British farmers are very concerned about the ban of neonicotinoid insecticides on oilseed rape and their imminent ban across the EU will have a significant impact on both varietal and crop protection choices.”

He added “The current widespread adoption of neonicotinoid treated seed by UK oilseed rape farmers will inevitably result in a rethink of insecticide treatments once the ban takes effect.”

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