Unfortunately I was unable to attend the debate on this issue , but I entirely agree that bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. This is especially important in our local area, where much food production takes place. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to understand and protect bees, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy.
Pesticides are tightly regulated, and decisions on the approval of these substances are made at the European level. Since December 2013, three of the five currently approved neonicotinoids are not permitted for use on a wide range of crops considered attractive to bees. The Government has implemented these restrictions in full. They are not time-limited, and will remain in place unless the European Commission decides to change them.
The European Food Safety Authority has begun a review of the science relating to neonicotinoids and bees, which is expected to conclude in the summer. This includes looking at the effects on bees caused by seed treatments, and uses of the restricted pesticides in the form of granules. The Government has said that it will contribute fully to this review, because any decisions must be based on solid evidence.
Rest assured that restrictions on neonicotinoids will not be removed if the evidence shows that they should remain.