Friday, 19 August 2016

Kevin Foster talks about bees and Torbay’s Buzzing Big Pollinator Survey

Regular readers will have seen my previous blog posts about declining bee and pollinator colonies which is something that greatly concerns me. My former MP, Kerry McCarthy, responded well to queries on this issue, but now we have moved to Torquay I have a new MP and I don't yet know much about his stance on anything! Kevin Foster is a Conservative MP so I wasn't sure I would find much common ground, however he does have very strong connections to Torbay and understands the area's needs, plus I have noticed him campaigning for animal welfare issues.

38 degrees got in touch recently asking members to contact their MPs regarding a new study about neonicotinoids and the decline of bee populations. This is my first email to Kevin and his response, below, is certainly promising.

"Dear Kevin Foster, I wanted to make sure you had seen a government-funded study which confirms that there is a strong link between the use of neonicotinoids and the decline of bee populations.

Post-Brexit we will have to set our own environmental laws. We will need to decide whether to keep the ban on pesticides. The government has been on the fence about this for too long. Please take a stand and write to George Eustice - the farming minister - to ask him to follow the science and keep the ban on neonicotinoids.

I’m worried about our bees being at risk. The government has said they will be led by science on this issue. Now this report has found that these pesticides have a severe effect on our wildlife.

Please take my opinions on board by speaking out on this issue.

Thank you,

More information about the new scientific evidence can be found here. It is receiving international press coverage:"

Kevin's response is as follows:

"Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for contacting me about insecticides and bees.

I entirely agree with you that bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to understand and protect them, 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, regardless of our membership with the European Union. Indeed, this year there have been two separate sets of applications for emergency use of neonicotinoids on part of the country's oilseed rape crop, but in each case the Expert Committee on Pesticides advised that the applications did not give sufficient assurances, and the applications were declined by Defra.

In addition, I recently helped to launch the ‘Torbay’s Buzzing Big Pollinator Survey’, a joint project between Buglife and Torbay Council that aims to stop the decline of bees, butterflies and other pollinators in Torbay. More information can be found at and I do hope that you will consider taking part.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Foster MP, Member of Parliament for Torbay"

So now I am looking into Buglife and have downloaded my survey pack. It's a four page document with clear colour photographs of common bees and pollinators to look out for in our garden and on our walks around the local area. I think we will find it an interesting project - as well as a great way to increase my knowledge of the many possible species I might see. If you're also doing the survey, do Comment to let me know!

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