The UK government has authorised the emergency use of neonicotinoid pesticide - which is almost entirely banned in the EU because of the known harm it can cause butterflies, bees and other wildlife.
The evidence of the harm neonicotinoids can do to pollinators and other wildlife is well known. Butterfly Conservation highlighted concerns about these pesticides as long ago as 2015, following a study by the Universities of Stirling and Sussex in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. This study was the first scientific evidence of a possible negative impact of these pesticides on widespread UK butterflies.
Since then the evidence of the negative impacts of neonicotinoids on bees, moths, butterflies, birds and other wildlife has continued to grow. Along with many other organisations, Butterfly Conservation came to conclude that these pesticides must be banned, and in 2017 we welcomed an announcement by Michael Gove, the then Environmental Secretary, that the UK would support a total ban across the European Union. At the time of the ban Michael Gove said the UK was in favour of the ban because it couldn't "afford to put pollinators at risk".
However, the government is now authorising the use of thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid pesticide, to be used on sugar beet in England in 2022.
The thoughts of Julie Williams - Butterfly Conservation CEO
Julie Williams, Butterfly Conservation CEO said: "The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and it is simply unacceptable for the Government to allow the demonstrable harm of pollinators and other wildlife at a time when nature is already in crisis.
"The time has come for neonicotinoids to be completely banned with no exception. We should be thinking about these pesticides in the same way we think about DDT. They are a group of chemicals which are simply too toxic and too damaging to use in any circumstances."