Farmers in Europe will be banned from using neonicotinoid pesticides in fields after the end of the year.
The decision to restrict the chemicals to use in greenhouses was taken by European Member States and announced in Brussels yesterday following an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) in February which concluded that they posed a danger to bees.
NFU Scotland’s combinable crops chairman, Ian Sands, described the move as a “disappointing blow” to many arable farmers and disputed the science which had been used to reach the decision.
“The decision to ban neonicotinoids is a highly contentious one, and the arguments within the debate have become increasingly politicised as the debate has gone on. Unfortunately, it would seem that the final decision has been influenced more by politics and less by sound science,” he said.
“There are still further debates to be had on other chemicals and it is important that we continue to push EU legislators to stop basing their decision making on politics and instead on scientific facts.
“We now have a few months to take stock of where we are at and where we go from here. Farmers and growers will have to look at what this ban will mean for their business and we as a union will continue to be on hand to our members for advice and help as we look to enter into a period of transition.”
Last year Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the UK would back a ban on the neonicotinoids, and yesterday a spokesman for Defra welcomed the vote in support of further restrictions.
He said: “The Government has always been clear we will be led by the science on this matter.
“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids may pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators is greater than previously understood.
“We recognise the impact a ban will have on farmers and will continue to work with them to explore alternative approaches as we design a new agricultural policy outside the European Union.”
Meanwhile campaigners hailed the decision as a “major victory”.
Emi Murphy, bee campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This a major victory for science, common sense and our under-threat bees.
“It’s great news that Michael Gove listened to the experts and backed the ban – he must now give farmers the support they need to grow food without bee-harming pesticides.”