BUTTERFLIES flitting over flowerbeds and bees buzzing around for pollen and nectar are among the joys of summer. But these soothing sights and sounds are getting scarcer – and yesterday ministers edged towards taming a possible culprit.
Laboratory tests suggest that a widely used group of pesticides – neonicotinoids – can harm bees. And yesterday Environment Secretary Owen Paterson ordered Government scientists to speed up studies into whether these chemicals can damage bees in the wild.
About time. He acted the day after MPs were told of “overwhelming” evidence that these insecticides are damaging our pollinators including bees, butterflies and bumblebees.
Sounding the alarm was Peter Melchett of organic farming’s Soil Association and a veteran GM crop-wrecker with Greenpeace.
He told the Environmental Audit Committee that neonicotinoids first started to be used in the mid-Nineties – just when mass bee disappearances began.
They’ve already been banned or suspended in France, Germany and Serbia. He says a ban in Italy on their use on maize was followed by a halving of winter honey bee deaths over three years.