Most of us will have seen this or similarly worded headlines on a myriad of mainstream media sites, blogs, alternative information sites and sites that are simply click bait for advertising revenue. Many of these so called articles are full of sensational erroneous statements and speculations that have no factual or scientific foundation what so ever.
Large numbers of people will have liked, shared and commented on these pages without any idea of what the reality is or giving it any real thought. Most of us do this at some time or another on social media because to do otherwise would be too time consuming.
So what actually is the reality?
has banned the use of five types of neonicotinoid insecticides that by
definition have been shown to cause harm to insects. This is two more than the EU have banned,
although countries frequently derogate from the ban in certain circumstances,
most recently, (Dec 2018), Belgium and some other countries are allowing sugar
beet growers to use Imidacloprid as a seed treatment for 2019. Seed treatments have been by far the main
method of delivery used here in France
principally on Oil Seed Rape, Maize and Sunflowers. They were also used as
foliar sprays on fruit crops of most types after flowering. France
However, that is not the end of the story. Neonicotinoids are still used in flea treatments for domestic creatures and in the house plant industry.
There is little point discussing just how much, if at all, the neonicotinoids that were used in
affected honeybees, which are, after all, generally a commercially managed
species here in the same way that chickens and pigs are. Overall there has been
no decline in honey bee colonies. France
It is however highly likely that they have contributed in no small manner to the decline of many other insect and bee species by virtue of sub lethal doses adding one more stress factor. Having said that, it’s impossible to quantify exactly what role they played against the backdrop of massive habitat loss and the large scale use of other pesticides, (some 2,500 authorised in
Here comes the rub. Without meaning to sound churlish, banning the five neonicotinoids in itself isn’t that big a deal when it comes to protecting the environment and saving our wildlife populations as a whole. What the ban has brought about is a return to open spraying of other pesticides, (although fungicides have always been open sprayed). The problem is particularly bad when it comes to OSR* where the crops are sprayed when in full flower. This not only impacts all the different insects that are foraging or living there but also all the birds that nest in or along the margins of this crop. In particular Linnet, Stone Chat, Yellow Wagtail, Corn bunting, Yellowhammer, Hen Harrier and Montague’s Harrier. Hedgehogs may also be present and foraging although not during actual spraying.
Click on image to expand
In conclusion, although this ban may be beneficial it is nowhere near enough given France is one of the greatest users of pesticides in Europe, something that is increasing at a substantial rate year on year. Huge changes have to be made if we are “to save everything” and not simply shuffle the cards using the same deck and still be killing as many species.
OSR – Oil Seed Rape.
Pesticides – an overall generic term now used for all “cides”. Insecticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, Rodenticides and so on.