Feeds

Co-op weighs into battle to save honeybees

Suppliers banned from using eight pesticides

The Power of One Infographic

The Co-op has announced that suppliers of its own-brand produce will henceforth be banned from using eight pesticides "implicated" in Colony Collapse Disorder - the unexplained disappearance of millions of honeybees which has hit hives worldwide.

The supermarket chain said growers on its 70,000 acres of land in in England and Scotland would not "where possible" use the neonicotinoid family of chemicals "until they are shown to be safe", as the Guardian puts it. The Co-op has, the paper notes, since 2001 "prohibited the use of 98 pesticides under its pesticide policy".

Scientific tests have suggested a possible link between one of the banned chemicals, imidacloprid, and disruption of honeybees' "sophisticated communication and navigation systems". France banned its use as a sunflower seed-dressing inseciticide ten years ago, while Germany, Italy and Slovenia last year slapped a blanket ban on the use of neonicotinoids in reponse to the honeybee crisis.

Simon Press, Co-op group senior technical manager, said: "We believe that the recent losses in bee populations need definitive action, and as a result are temporarily prohibiting the eight neonicotinoid pesticides until we have evidence that refutes their involvement in the decline."

The Co-op's pesticide ban forms part of its 10-point Plan Bee, which also includes £150,000 "for research into the impact of pesticides on the decline of honeybees in England". Co-op members and customers will benefit from a bee-friendly wildflower seed giveaway.

The Co-op's campaign does not stop at its own doorstep, however. Its head of social goals, Paul Monaghan, said the government had failed to recognise that "pesticides could be a contributing factor" in the honeybees' dramatic decline.

Elliott Carnell, coordinator of Pesticide Action Network Europe, agreed, accusing: "The government has fought against any attempts to protect bees, which pollinate a third of the average diet. It argues that banning pesticides jeopardises crop yields, but if that was the case why would a leading food retailer be introducing this measure?"

While the government has hedged its bets as to what might be responsible for bee deaths, and prefers not to mention Colony Collapse Disorder, it is not entirely indifferent to the crisis. It recently stumped £4.3m "to safeguard and undertake more research into the health of bees" following the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs' (Defra) decision last year to give "higher priority" to investigating the matter.

Defra's analysis to date is the possible implication of abnormally wet weather - which may have hindered the bees' ability to collect enough food to survive the winter - coupled with the single-celled fungus Nosema, which might have taken advantage of the insects' rain-induced confinement and stressed state to spread with deadly effect. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.