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UK government gags advisers in bees and pesticides row

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posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 12:33 PM
The Guardian Newspaper

The government has gagged its own pesticide advisers, after they refused to back an application by the National Farmers Union to lift a ban on bee-harming chemicals. The gag is intended to prevent campaigners lobbying ministers on the issue, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, were banned in the European Union in 2013. Substantial scientific evidence indicates that the nerve agents cause serious harm to bees, whose pollination is vital for many crops.

The National Farmers Union says oil seed rape is becoming impossible to grow without the pesticides and applied for an emergency lifting of the ban on two neonicotinoids.

The NFU told the Guardian the Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP), part of the Health and Safety Executive, refused to back its request. Ministers said the final decision had yet to be made, but on Thursday the NFU submitted new applications targeting smaller areas of the country.

I wonder what is the reason for the gag/secrecy.
It is clear that Neonicotinoids damage bee populations, hence the EU wide ban, but why hide the minutes of the meetings?
Here's more from the same article:

As well as the ECP’s meeting minutes, the NFU’s application forms have also been kept secret, despite requests from MPs for their publication. The farming minister, George Eustice said the information in the applications was commercially sensitive.

I cannot imagine what 'commercially sensitive' details could be at stake to prevent publication of government meetings regarding an application to use pesticides known to kill bees.

I am pleased the application was refused, but is it only short term? Would the minutes of the meeting show that the government are actually in favour of it but have the sticky problem of EU law, and wish to appear 'bee friendly' in it's public image?

Just throwing this out there for anyone interested, but when the government imposes gags it is never for a good reason in my opinion.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 02:28 PM
a reply to: grainofsand

Oops, the situation changed faster than I realised...

The government has temporarily lifted a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in certain parts of the country.
An EU-wide moratorium was put in place after some studies showed the pesticide caused significant harm to bees.
But following a second emergency application by the National Farmers Union, two neonicotinoid pesticides can now be used for 120 days on about 5% of England's oilseed rape crop.

Environmental and wildlife groups have called the decision "scandalous".

It looks like the National Farmers Union have won, and we still don't know the minutes of those meetings.
Sneaky and slyness all around.

Petition to the UK government HERE

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 03:12 PM
a reply to: grainofsand

It does seem excessive. Not so much to those of us in the USA. The EU has always seemed more willing to care for it's citizens.

So the Farmers can't grow rape seed (canola oil) without the application of neo --- whaty whoist. And since it's banned in the EU they are looking for an economic exemption. That seems to be the gist.

Why the secrecy I can only speculate. Maybe to keep the extortionary tactics of Big Chemical/Agriculture out of the press. Maybe to hid evidence about just how distructive these insecticides (and the resistance pests it creates) can be to crops.

And then there is the subject of growing canola in the first place.... another topic perhaps.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 03:26 PM

originally posted by: FyreByrd
Why the secrecy I can only speculate. Maybe to keep the extortionary tactics of Big Chemical/Agriculture out of the press. Maybe to hid evidence about just how distructive these insecticides (and the resistance pests it creates) can be to crops.
Those are my sort of thoughts as well.
What worries me the most is that this casual attitude of 'commercial sensitivity' to make discussions with government secret will become accepted by people and used more often.

This year the EU devolved the banning decision of commercial growing of GM crops to national governments. GM crops have never been commercially grown in the UK, and the current Conservative party majority government are drawn towards allowing it for the first time ever.
If this secrecy with the killing of bees is anything to go by I can see much foul play going on regarding GM crop producers and the government.

...and the thing with 'commercially sensitive' secrets is that it can be used for anything. Nobody will know which farms are using the pesticides, and nobody will know which fields are GM if they are introduced. That basically means that nobody can protest the unknown individual farms and/or carry out direct action.

I fear for our farming industry, and especially so in my SW England region where a third of all the UK's organic crops are farmed.

posted on Jul, 25 2015 @ 08:40 PM
Thanks for bringing this to our attention

The link for the petition - Just wondering, have any of those petitions ever made any difference?

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 06:54 AM
a reply to: VoidHawk

Agreed, I'm not sure any petition has ever worked but with a silent public the government will just do what it likes.
Here's another option, write to or email the Defra Minister Liz Truss, and your own MP urging them to retain the Commission restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides:

Write to: LizTruss, Environment Secretary, Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR

If you’re on Twitter you can tweet her at @trussliz and @DefraGovUk

This is a massive issue for our bees, and with the government gagging the minutes of their meetings with it's own advisors I'd say they know it full well, but don't give a toss.
Yep, petitions and emails to MP's may not do a thing in the end, but if anyone has any better ideas than just whining about it on ATS I'm all ears.

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 09:12 AM
This is what the National Farmers Union are saying about the whole thing:

Bees and neonicotinoids - what's it all about?

The big unanswered question remains whether the harmful impacts observed in studies based on artificially dosing bees, occur in real-life field situations and cause the population declines we are all so concerned about.

A Swedish study earlier this year did find harmful impacts on wild bees (but not honeybees) in real fields, but does this mean neonicotinoids are causing widespread declines in bee populations? or does it just mean that insecticide-treated fields can be inhospitable places for insects? We still don’t know.
So why did the government gag it's own scientific advisors?

NFU comment on neonicotinoid distribution

Further to the NFU securing the emergency use of enough neonicotinoid seed treatments from the Chemical Regulation Directorate to treat five per cent of the oilseed rape crop in England (around 30,000ha) we understand the following information:

The authorisation from the CRD requires treated seed distribution to be targeted to areas of highest risk. This means that farms in four counties will have access to neonicotinoid seed treatment products under the emergency use authorisation. They are Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Last year there was approximately 90,000 Ha of oilseed rape grown in these four counties.
At least we know where this 'experiment' will be carried out now, so I hope it will include attempts to record any effects on the bee populations in those counties.

The whole thing stinks to me, if only because of the gag on whatever the governments scientific advisors had to say about it, I gues it's just a case of see what happens now.

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 09:24 AM
a reply to: grainofsand

Save the bees... They give us honey and look pretty..!

posted on Jul, 26 2015 @ 09:58 PM

originally posted by: grainofsand
a reply to: VoidHawk

Write to: LizTruss, Environment Secretary, Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR
I will

Yep, petitions and emails to MP's

Petition - that reminds me!
A couple of years ago in my (then) local town, we all received a letter telling us the local council were going to switch off the street lights every night at midnight, to save money.
A petition was set up and people started to sign it.
Realizing people were signing it a local MP sent out another letter.
In the letter he said "This is not fair, if our street lights must be switched off, then so must those in the main town, we must start a new petition demanding the lights in the town also be switched off"
Of course they all fell for it. Now the entire town is in darkness every night.

There's peeple on here who dont like the use of the word sheeple, but when one witnesses such behavior as I saw in that town I cant help but feel Sheeple really is the right word.

I know thats a bit of topic, but it shows just how pointless petitions are when people are so easily led.

posted on Jul, 27 2015 @ 10:48 AM
Just wanting to pass along this article I saw this morning on the subject:

The UK government this week temporarily lifted a ban on controversial pesticides linked to widespread harm to bees and other insects—a move which one environmental group said "shows a blatant disregard for our wildlife."

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