Greens generate buzz about importance of bees


For immediate release 21 February 2012

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone has created a buzz in parliament about the importance of protecting the humble bee.

A motion lodged by the Lothian MSP is being backed by members from the SNP, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats.* The motion calls on the Scottish Government to review the rules on pesticides, as they are widely understood to pose a threat to the health of bees and other pollinating insects.
The food we eat and Scotland's farming economy relies heavily on crops being pollinated. Italy and France have banned certain pesticides in a bid to protect bees, while The Co-operative has banned some from its own-brand supply chain.
Alison's motion highlights ongoing research between the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association and universities, including the University of Dundee, examining the impact of industrial disease-control chemicals and pesticides on bees.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
"The humble bee is of vital importance to the food we eat and to Scotland's economy so it's pleasing to see MSPs from all parties taking this issue seriously. I hope the Scottish Government acts on the latest research to ensure we are protecting our pollinators.
"Scottish Greens have always believed society relies on a healthy environment. We will continue to raise these issues and seek support from others for the benefit of Scotland."
Welcoming the cross-party show of support, Matt Shardlow, chief executive of the charity Buglife, said:

“Neonicotinoid pesticides are massively toxic to wildlife. The Government has been unable to produce any evidence that shows that these pesticides do not destroy honeybees and wild pollinator populations. More and more evidence of their threat to wildlife and honeybees has come to light. Government must ban neonicotinoids now before further damage is done to our fragile ecosystems.”

Dr John Durkacz of the Scottish Beekeepers Association said:
"We are concerned at the possible environmental impact of pesticides but at the same time recognise that responsible use is a key to global food production. Hence a balanced approach and careful collection of data is vital."

* The motion's title is: Vital Role of Wild Pollinators and Managed Bees.

That the Parliament recognises the vital role bees and other insects play in providing food for people and maintaining the agricultural economy through the pollination of crops; notes that the majority of pollination is by wild pollinators, such as bumblebees; is concerned that the long-term effect of many pesticides on insect pollinators might be not well understood; notes that Italy and France have imposed neonicotinoid pesticide bans as a precautionary measure and that Cooperative Food has banned six neonicotinoid pesticides from its own-brand produce; commends the ongoing research partnership between the Scottish Beekeepers Association and four universities, including the University of Dundee, which is conducting a three-year survey of the impact of industrial disease-control chemicals and pesticides on foraging, navigation and communication in bees; recommends that chemical manufacturers must fund more rigorous tests before being granted license to sell plant protection products in the European Union, and, in light of new research and in order to better protect pollinating insect populations, calls on the Scottish Government to review the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products in Scotland and the list of active substances authorised by The Plant Protection Products (Scotland) Regulations 2005.