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The Wildlife Trust challenges ‘unlawful’ use of killer pesticide

The Wildlife Trust has sent a legal letter to the Environment Secretary, questioning the emergency authorisation of the use of a pesticide which poses a risk to bees and other pollinators. 

Environment Secretary, George Eustice issued the authorisation for the pesticide on January 8 to protect the crop from beet yellow virus.

The Syngenta Cruiser SB pesticide contains dangerous neonicotinoid and is banned for widespread use under EU law retained by the EU Withdrawl Act 2018. Although emergency authorisation proposes to control and strictly limit the use of chemicals, the Wildlife Trust has expressed concern that it will still cause harm to the environment.

The pesticide is known to present an acute and long-term risk to bee colony, under EU law it is only permitted in an emergency to tackle a danger that cannot be addressed by any other means.

Represented by Leigh Day solicitors, The Wildlife Trusts have written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with their challenge.

They say that there is no new evidence to justify revising the 2018 findings of the risk to bees and DEFRA has also failed to properly assess the risk of harm to other wildlife.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘We are preparing to take legal action unless the Government can prove it acted lawfully.  The Government refused a request for emergency authorisation in 2018 and we want to know what’s changed. Where’s the new evidence that it’s ok to use this extremely harmful pesticide?

‘Using neonicotinoids not only threatens bees but is also extremely harmful to aquatic wildlife because the majority of the pesticide leaches into soil and then into waterways. Worse still, farmers are being recommended to use weedkiller to kill wildflowers in and around sugar beet crops in a misguided attempt to prevent harm to bees in the surrounding area. This is a double blow for nature.’

Leigh Day solicitor Tom Short added: ‘Our client is deeply concerned that the Secretary of State has granted this authorisation despite the serious risks that use of neonicotinoids outdoors presents to the natural world. The UK Expert Committee on Pesticides, along with many other expert bodies, has repeatedly urged against such authorisations.

‘The Secretary of State’s announcement provides no new evidence of a genuine need to resort to the use neonicotinoids justifying an emergency authorisation or that the risks of such use can be adequately controlled. Our client is pressing for urgent answers and contemplates pursuing this in the courts if Secretary of State’s response falls short.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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