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14 January 2021 20:32

Minecraft Bee Tiger 3D

Bee-killing pesticides are making a comeback.

More than 70 people have been arrested and charged for their role in the deadly, pro-Trump attack on the US Capitol last Wednesday, "but there are so many who also deserve to face consequences for their actions", said Samantha Bee on Full Frontal – namely, the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the election results. "Just as despicably, Trump's biggest enablers are only now breaking from the president to try to save their careers," Bee continued while listing off Trump's cabinet members who jumped ship with just two weeks to go, such as the transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, and secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, as well as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has tacitly declined to lobby against the impeachment charges filed by the Democratic House on Wednesday. "Make no mistake: we are in the dystopia," said Stephen Colbert on Wednesday, after the House voted to impeach Trump for a second time and, for security, members of the national guard slept on the floor of the Capitol building. As for the House vote to impeach Trump again, just over a year since the first impeachment, Colbert was relieved but exhausted. With the House vote, Trump became not only the first president to face impeachment twice, but "the only president to be impeached twice and lose the popular vote twice", said Meyers.

"It's always a surprise to see how crazy some of our elected officials are," said Jimmy Kimmel before clips of Republican congressmen defending the president against impeachment. "We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk." These were the words of Michael Gove when he introduced the ban on bee-killing pesticides in 2018. Fast forward to this year, and the government has just given the green light for bee-killing pesticides to be sprayed in the UK. The pesticide being used has been banned for being poisonous to bees, but it's just been approved to help grow sugar beet in the spring. We can't allow pesticides to destroy our environment and kill any more bees.

Can you quickly sign this petition urging the Environment secretary to enforce a total ban on bee-killing pesticides? So what's changed since the government banned bee-killing pesticides in 2018? Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are still bad news for bees. The government say they're allowing emergency use to protect growers of sugar beet. We rely on bees to help pollinate lots of crops like apples, beans, squashes and almonds.

As Environment Minister, he can show he's on the side of nature by enforcing a total ban on bee-harming pesticides. If lots of people sign this petition we can pile pressure on the government to quickly reverse its decision and keep bee-killing pesticides away from our environment. The UK government has broken its promise to keep restrictions on a bee-killing pesticide which was banned in the EU two years ago. The 'environmentally regressive' move from the Environment Secretary George Eustice comes at a time when British insects are in serious decline. The UK has lost a third of its bees in the last decade while land-based insects have declined 50% in the last 75 years.

Neonicotinoid thiamethoxam – the chemical which is toxic to the insect population – has been green-lighted for 'limited and controlled use' in response to lobbying from the National Farmers Union concerned about reduced yields. However, even 'limited' use has the potential to severely impact the dwindling bee population in the UK. Cambridge's MP Daniel Zeichner has called for a Parliamentary vote after the government granted an emergency use of neonicotinoids - pesticides banned by the European Union due to their impact on bees. The Labour MP, who is shadow minister with national responsibility for pesticide use, described it as a "worrying indication" of the government's environmental credentials post-Brexit. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced last Friday (January 8) that it was allowing growers in England to use Syngenta's Cruiser SB - which features the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam - on sugar beet only during 2021, due to the threat to this year's crop from the beet yellows virus.

"Sugar beet is a non-flowering crop and the risks to bees from the sugar beet crop itself were assessed to be acceptable," said Defra. Mr Zeichner, who is vice-president of Cambridgeshire Bee Keepers Association and a species champion for the ruderal bumblebee, said: "With up to three quarters of our crops dependent on bees and other pollinators, we all need our bees to be safe. As an environment minister I'm working hard to protect bees, that is why I am calling for a Parliamentary vote to stop the government's plan to allow bee-killing pesticides to be used again. Mr Zeichner said he had held meetings with Friends of the Earth on the issue and called on the government to publish the Expert Committee on Pesticides' full scientific assessment of its use. The chemicals can kill bees in larger quantities. Secretary of state George Eustice granted the use of thiamethoxam only on fields where the threshold for virus levels was reached. It followed an application from NFU Sugar and British Sugar, which proposed to mitigate the risk to bees from flowering weeds in and around the sugar beet using a weed-killing herbicide, which would limit the numbers growing around treated crops. "Any treatment will be used in a limited and controlled way on sugar beet – a non-flowering crop – and only when the scientific threshold has been independently judged to have been met," he said. "Virus yellows disease is having an unprecedented impact on Britain's sugar beet crop, with some growers experiencing yield losses of up to 80 per cent, and this authorisation is desperately needed to fight this disease. The decision follows the ban on outdoor use of thiamethoxam and two other neonicotinoids - clothianidin and imidacloprid - in 2018. At the time, Michael Gove, who was then environment secretary, said: "The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood. But Defra said of the partial reversal on the ban: "The government made it clear that it could consider emergency authorisations in special circumstances where authorisation for limited and controlled use appears necessary because of a danger that cannot be contained by any other reasonable means and where the risk to people, animals and the environment, and in particular to bees and other pollinators, was considered acceptably low." "The secretary of state is satisfied there is sufficient evidence to indicate that residues of thiamethoxam and its metabolite deteriorate over time, and that with mitigation measures in place the risks are considered to be acceptably low enough that the benefits outweigh them." The foraging of bees is impacted by neonicotinoids It said allowing "seed-dressing" was a method of application that results in only five per cent of the pesticide going where it is targeted - in the crop, with the rest accumulating in the soil, from where it can be absorbed by the roots of wildflowers and hedgerow plants, or leach into rivers and streams where it could harm more than 3,800 invertebrate species. Mitigating the impact with more herbicide would only further harm populations of wildflowers and the insects that depend on them, the charity suggested. Joan Edwards, director of public affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, added: "The government has bowed to pressure from the National Farmers' Union even though, three years ago, the UK government supported restrictions on the neonicotinoid pesticides across the European Union, because of the very clear harm that they were causing to bees and other pollinators. "We will be writing to the Prime Minister requesting that he reverses the Secretary of State's decision and focus support for farmers to adopt non-chemical alternatives so that agriculture supports nature and does not destroy it. Sugar beet farmers face a threat to their crops Insects are food for numerous larger animals including birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and they perform vital roles for people too – such as pollination of crops and wildflowers, pest control and nutrient recycling. "The secretary of state's decision to authorise the use of an environmentally devastating chemical to increase production of a crop with no nutritional value is madness. "Instead, the government should be focussing their efforts on regenerative farming approaches, supporting farmers to produce nutritional food which is good for people and has a positive effect on wildlife."