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If any of you heard Kate on Gardener's Question Time last week, she gave a very brave defence of wildlife in the face of a concerted 'push' from the BBC to sell us the idea that Neonicotinoid Pesticides are 'alright if used according to manufacturers instructions'. Kate pointed out that the latest research from Stirling University has revealed that bumblebees that come into contact with systemic neonicotinoids produce 85% fewer queens each year - which effectively means extinction. Speaking as a beekeeper, more than 10,000,000 colonies of bees have been destroyed globally by neonicotinoids since they were introduced in France in 1992. America is currently losing over a million colonies per year (and they only have 3 million!).
This is what Kate said on GQT:
Well I have to agree with John Hall, the beekeeper from Shropshire, recent research has shown that honeybees are less able to navigate back to their hives; bumblebee queens produced 85% fewer new queens in the wild, and this is potentially catastrophic for bees.
There is really no need for gardeners to be using these pesticides, I don't think any plants are worth losing our bees over, there lots of natural controls; in the case of aphids just wait for the ladybirds and hoverflies to come along and eat the aphids; birds also feed aphids to their young; vine weevils can be dealt with by nematodes; scale insects can be picked off by birds. So I agree with John Hall (beekeeper) completely."
ERIC ROBSON replied: "And it should be said that the manufacturers of those pesticides refute everything that Kate Bradbury said. We did talk to DEFRA as well and they said that they are looking at the new data – but so far they see “no cause for concern” and they pointed out that “all pesticides are of course extensively tested before they are given authorisation for amateur use”
Eric Robson's cringe-making comment in which he rubbished and disowned everything that Kate Bradbury had just said (on behalf of the BBC) – suggests that he was under BBC orders to promote the safety and innocence of systemic insecticides at all costs. His remark that 'the manufacturers “refute everything that Kate has just said” was simply gutless journalism.
The truth is that if you use ANY systemic neonicotinoid in our garden, those plants will remain hyper-toxic to bees, butterflies and all pollinators which come into contact the poisoned pollen and nectar. Please donwload and read this article here:
Furthermore the recourse to simply parroting the DEFRA line that ' everything is tested, everything is safe” was pathetic. He didn't ask a single question about WHO does the testing.
I don't listen to GQT, so thank you for telling us about it, and for your defense of Kate's viewpoint.
For some reason, simply trying to click on the link you gave didn't work. I'll try this:
This link does seem to work.
Note also that there are posts on this forum, posted within the past couple of days, where some forum members have recommended spraying plants with Bayer Provado. Provado contains precisely these chemicals.
All theses debates are a matter of opinion-I am of the opinion that pesticides sold is this country are safe and have been tested-no gardener or grower has any interest in wiping out bees or any other kind of wildlife
I didn't listen to the programme either -my guess is that the presenter was just giving the other side for balance-also I doubt that he would class even himself as a journalist
I am not sure that Kate is speaking on behalf of the BBC-is that what is being stated?-also what evidence is there about a "push" from the BBC to promote these products-why would or should there be-there is no advantage to the BBC is there?
I'm afraid that the BBC has been under huge pressure from the pesticide manufacturers and the Crop Protection Association, as well as their highly paid PR company. The line they take is that the BBC must always offer a 'balanced view' - so if Monty Don or Pippa Greenwood refuse to advocate the 'choice' of using systemic pesticides, then ergo the BBC is guilty of 'unbalanced reporting.'
There was a huge row last month when Monty Don was placed under huge pressure by his Producers, who tried to force him to advocate the use of Bayer's 'Provado bug Killer' as a treatment for Lily Beetles. Systemic neonicotinoids remain inside the sap, leaves and flowers of a plant for the entire growing season and render the pollen and nectar of any flower lethal to bees and butterflies.
Monty Don refused to promote neonics, and was allegedly threatened with being sacked if he did not play ball. His response was to go to the Press and challenge the BBC to sack him; he flatly refused to promote pesticides on his programme.
Many other presenters are allegedly under similar pressure to always mention that viewers should have 'the choice' of using these hyper toxic poisons on their flowers.
Pippa Greenwood was taken to task by John Hall - a beekeeper from Shropshire last week, for recommending that gardeners should use neonicotinoids for some pests. The irony is that Pippa is an advocate for organic gardening - who would not use these poisons herself; maybe she has been 'leant on'.?
TV presenter Monty Don has hit out at his BBC employers, saying he will not follow their advice on making viewers aware of nor-organic alternatives
Monty Don embroiled in row with BBC employers after refusing to follow advice to make viewers aware of non-organic products
Gardening has won him many admirers. For BBC chiefs, however, it seems the presenter’s faith is a bit too deep-rooted.
On his Gardeners’ World show on BBC2, he advised viewers that the ‘only way’ to get rid of the lily beetle – which strips plants of their leaves and flowers – ‘is to hand-pick them and then destroy them’.
His advice enraged pesticide manufacturers. In an article in a horticultural journal, they criticised him for not mentioning that their products could also remove the insect.
But instead of standing by their man, the BBC told his critics: ‘Monty often mentions non-organic alternatives and we will endeavour to ensure this is more consistent in future.’
Don, who is president of the Soil Association, was distinctly unimpressed. He said the statement had ‘irritated’ him, adding: ‘It is a classic case of the BBC not wanting to offend anyone and trying to be fair and reasonable – but at the same time getting it wrong.
‘It it nonsense, because there is nothing here that they need to defend.&rsquo
I was aware of the Daily Mail article and also Monty Don's position in the Soil Association-to be fair to the BBC they are obliged to give a balanced view- this situation would appear to be more of a stand -off by Monty Don than anything-I believe he is in a second year of a 2 year contract and without speculating-which I am about to do- than this allows him get out for him if he chooses.
As for the GQT time sequence that again is obviously a set up to get the balanced view bit broadcast and into the wider domain -that is not going to happen on GW by all accounts
As gardeners I feel personally that we take the sensible route- that is organic- with a chemical use if that fails.
"All theses debates are a matter of opinion-I am of the opinion that pesticides sold is this country are safe and have been tested-no gardener or grower has any interest in wiping out bees or any other kind of wildlife"
Geoff, I'm afraid that-sadly - it is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact, and if you only look at the history of pesticides in this country, you will see that placing ones faith in 'the regulatory authorities' (DEFRA and CRD) is not a good idea.
DDT was introduced in 1945 and 'the authorities' told us it was 'perfectly safe'. The evidence that DDT was responsible for the deaths of millions of birds, including peregrines, was proven by Derek Ratcliffe in the late 1950s - but it was not banned until 1979. Five years ago the W.I. agreed to have 1500 female volunteers tested for pesticides in their blood, breast tissue and urine. Ruth Bond, the chairwoman, said that she only took part 'to encourage the other W.I. members as it were. They found DDT in the breast tissue and blood of every single one of the 1500 women tested. Ruth Bond discovered she had 22 different pesticides present in her blood, including DDT. And that is more than 25 years after DDT was banned.
It is estimated that over 60% of all cancers are linked to our consumption of organochlorine crop pesticides since the 1950s. They were finally banned (aldrin, dieldrin etc) in the 1970s, but 'the authorities' then licensed organophosphates -derived from nerve gas technology. These too were said to be 'perfectly safe' - and were widely used as sheep dips (compulsory - farmers had no choice). As a direct result, thousands of farmers came down with MS, Parkinsons and host of neurological illnesses; the authorities denied to the end that OPs were the cause, but Europe banned them early this century.
They were replaced with neonicotinoids -also derived from nerve gas science.
We are assured that they are 'safe' - but they are designed to attack the nervous system of bees - and 10 million colonies have died worldwide since 1992.
Do you see a pattern beginning to emerge here?
I do not want to get into a long debate here-but will ask you this-what motivation is there for any gardener or grower to want to wipe out out bees or any other wildlife just as a casualty of war against aphids?
These pesticides will only sell if there is a demand-I do feel people are more enlightened than they were in the 20th century-and I have lived in both centurys
I grow lilies and I have no difficulty in spotting the red beetles and removing them. I can't really understand why anyone should actually need a spray. It seems so easy to control the beetles manually.
I didn't know that Monty had had a row with the BBC about this. Good old Monty!
Hi Geoff, like you I don't believe any gardener or farmer would want to exterminate wildlife in garden or field. But both we and the farmers have been lied to - on a scale that would justify the phrase "the greatest lie in history". Gardeners are told that the systemic neonics are 'safe' because 'all pesticides are tested and DEFRA has full confidence'. What they don't tell us is that the only testing that is ever done is done by the pesticide manufacturers or their paid researchers in universities. DEFRA and the CRD carry out no testing whatever. Which raises an obvious question: if the regulator relies entirely on data supplied by the pesticide manufacturer, why would the manufacturer ever supply data that proved his product was dangerous to wildlife? The French Govt investigated neonics in 1998 after the death of a million French bee colonies; they decided that they were deadly to bees- highly toxic, present in pollen and nectar, persistent for month in the plant, persistent in soil for years. The ban has never been rescinded despite enormous lobbying by Bayer. Germany banned neonics in 2010 after the loss of 10,000 colonies in the Rhineland in a single week, when neonics were used on maize and the dust got loose. Italy banned them in 2009 after a massive bee-kill in the Po Valley.
Farmers have no choice because it is now almost impossible to buy seeds of wheat, barley, oilseed rape, potatoes etc that are NOT already pre-treated with neonics. There is growing evidence that almost all the plants we buy in trays from garden centres - certainly all the bulbs and plants that come from Holland, have been pre-treated with neonics before we buy them. Innocent gardeners, who consider theselves 'organic' are stocking their gardens with plants that are highly poisonous to bees - completely unware that their trays of plants, tulip and lily bulbs are pre-saturated with neonicotinoids.
I have been a beekeeper since 1990 and have always kept ten hives. Until about 2000 I lived in an area where there were no arable crops (dairy land) - I rarely lost a hive in winter. Now, I live in an area of intensive arable crops - and 50% of my hives die every year; I have not had a honey harvest since 2006, because the hives never make enough to justify taking it.
Anyway, please don't be afraid to debate, or take a devil's advocate position; the truth about this has been hidden from us - vast sums of money are at stake for the pesticide manufacturers - more than £1.2 billion a year on just one neonic.
Check out the Crop Protection Association's Annual Report here:
Agricultural and horticultural herbicides, fungicides and insecticides sales rose six per cent to £552.6m. Some 18,211 tonnes of active ingredients were used in the UK, up by 16 per cent.
Garden and household product sales were flat at £53.7m, with herbicides one per cent down at £35m and insecticides nine per cent down at £6m"
I will withdraw from the discussion at this point-I think in gardening there is room for all methods and big business has a part to play-also I am not convinced they are all bad guys
I genuinely wish you well in your endeavours
I really don't know whether Provodo is dangerous, or not. As I see it, it's simply unnecessary in domestic gardens. So the question is not relevant where my garden is concerned.Whether farmers should be using these products is a different question. Those who have the biggest interest in a healthy bee population are farmers. They are the ones who need to make informed decisions. Their livelihoods depend on it. I do know that without industrialised agriculture and distribution we would not be able to feed the population of the world.If we are concerned about these issues, then we can all do a lot more to make our own gardens eco-friendly, before worrying about what farmers and other people are doing.
Please take a look at what the Soil Association website says about Provado, which it lists as a 'Bee Killer'
Garden pesticides that kill bees - table provided
PESTICIDE NEONICOTINOID SELLER
Westland Plant Rescue Bug Killer; Thiamethoxam; Wickes
Provado Vine Weevil Killer; Thiacloprid; B&Q
Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer Acetamiprid; B&Q
Bug Clear Gun! Acetamiprid; B&Q
Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Spray Thiacloprid Homebase
Provado Ult. Bug Killer Ready to Use Thiacloprid Homebase
Provado Ult. Bug Killer Concentrate Thiacloprid Homebase
We don't use any insecticides or slug pellets - if it'll kill insects it'll upset the balance of nature - the birds, hedgehogs, bats, frogs and toads etc seem to keep things in check here - and we live on the edge of a city so if it works here it'll surely work anywhere.
And I just don't believe that something that'll kill one type of insect can be harmless to another. When I was a child the summer evening air was full of moths as we drove through the countryside, sometimes it was like driving through a cloud and the windscreen needed cleaning when we got home - when was the last time anyone saw insect life like that in the UK? Something has happened to really reduce the numbers of insects and it's really worrying.
I come from a farming family - I know how dependent we are on pollinating insects to provide our food. There's a school of thought that says it's better for the planet for us to eat less meat and more veg but how will that work if the veg can't be pollinated to make seeds???
Borderbeeman, I am glad you have brought this to our attention. I am particularly horrified to think that plants I buy from a garden centre may be pre-treated with poisons. As to an earlier comment about gardeners not deliberately doing things to hurt bees - of course we don't, but if we are not even aware of what's happening behind our backs how can we make the choice?
Thanks Flobear and Doves, I have had the same conversation with an elderly farmer here in the Borders; he said that he used to drive ten miles each way to see his daughter in the 1960s - and he would have to clean his windscreen because of the dead insects - every trip, each way. Now he says he never needs to clean the windscreen. We are witnessing the extinction of all the common life that used to live in the fields and hedgerows. I recently read that farmland birds have declined by 70 to 80% in just 20 years: skylarks, partridges, yellowhammers, linnets, sparrows, starlings - they have vanished from the fields. ALL of these birds feed their young on insects and larvae - even sparrows. No insects means no young birds; no young birds means rapid decline. I live on a farm, and although my garden is full of sparrows, dunnocks and bluetits - the fields for miles around are silent and empty of life. There is nothing to eat for the birds, or the bees, or the butterflies. We are creating an ecological dead-zone wherever arable crops are grown. Which is why gardens are the last oasis for wildlife. In France the situation is so serious that a new grassroots network is growing, called 'The Pollinis' - who are setting up bee and wildlife reserves in every village. Check them out here:
Friends of the Bees are also asking people to establish 'Bee Friendly Zones in this country, because if we don't, there will soon be nothing left. The most insidious aspect is this one of 'hidden' pesticides in imported tulip bulbs, imported plug plants. Very hard to find out what is treated and what is not; there is no requirement for labelling. The issue of coated seeds is also very mysterious; Suttons are now selling 'organic flower seeds'; which leads me to ask - what are the other flower seeds if not organic?
Thanks for the info about Suttons - that'll certainly be where I look for any seeds I need
As we've moved into a new (to us) garden which had been neglected for several years, we're working hard to ensure that anything we do doesn't remove insect habitat, or if it does, then we endeavour to replace it with something of at least equal value.
As I think I've said before I come from a farming family, and here in East Anglia some farmers are noticing the lack of beneficial insects and some are taking steps to try to remedy what has happened - the problem is they are tied to contracts with the big supermarkets and these contracts control every aspect of how a crop is produced - until the public understands what is going on and puts pressure on the supermarkets the growers have their hands tied if they wish to stay in business (it's a bit like the current probems in the dairy industry).
Hi Dove, the tactic used in the USA by Bayer and Monsanto has been to buy-up ALL of the independent seed companies - the process is now more or less complete. It is virtually impossible to purchase any crop seed today that is not already pre-coated with neonicotioid pesticides.The figures are truly scary. The Americans planted 92 million acres of neonic treated maize last year - that is four times the entire area of Scotland. Each maize seed has 1.25 milligrams of Clothianidin on it; that is enough - from a single seed - to kill 200,000 bees.
If you add in wheat, barley and cotton in the USA the total acreage treated with bee-killing pesticides is 403 million acres. Here in the UK it is around 4 million acres - but that is just about every acre of wheat, barley, OSR, potatoes, peas,beans - and most glasshouse crops: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc.
If anyone knows any farmers - please ask them if they have any choice in buying neonicotinoid treated seed? My impression is that increasingly they do not - and planting is often now sub-contracted to specialist agronomists - who just prescribe pesticide treated seeds as standard procedure.
The emormous change, which hardly anyone has noticed - is that pesticides used to be applied as a REACTION to an invasion of insects - which might only happen one year in five, or in one part of a field. The farmer then went and sprayed that section. Today, EVERY SEED in EVERY ACRE is coated with bee-poison PROHYLACTICALLY - in advance, as an insurance policy. Every acre of arable crops in the UK is automatically made toxic to all forms of insect life as a 'precaution'; the result is the death of all earthworms, beetles, aphids, ladybirds, hoverflies, bees, butterflies etc. Think about it - every single acre of arable crops you see in the UK is empty, devoid of all forms of life, except the crop itself.
The analogy would be antibiotics. Everyone gets a sore throat once every couple of years. but would your doctor prescribe you antibiotics, every day of your life, as a 'precaution' against the possibility that you might, one day, get a sore throat.
Of course she wouldn't! That would be very dangerous, since all your normal bacteria would soon become resistant and when you really needed an antibiotic, it would no longer work. The same is happening with our crops; the more efficient the insecticides and herbicides become, and the more we treat every single seed with systemics as an 'insurance policy' the greater the chance of developing resistance, so more and more dangerous pesticides and herbicides have to be applied. By wiping out the 'friendly predators' - ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies - we create a vast area of crop that is unprotected by nature's balance - we are ringing the dinner bell for the arrival of 'super pests'. The same is true for the garden. If we support the balance of predators (spiders, lacewings, ladybirds etc) and prey insects (aphids, mealybugs etc) then the system is largely self-regulating. if we wipe the slate clean of predators, we are sowing dragon's teeth and inviting an explosion of pests.
I agree, I think we've sown the seeds (sorry) of our own destruction!
Grubbing out hedgerows is a slightly related topic. What amazes me is that many gardeners want to blame farmers for destroying habitats. But if you look at the gardens of the people complaining, very often, they have shaved clover-free lawns, and their gardens have no wild flowers, nettles, or log piles. Many people talk about environment, but seemingly don't want to do anything about it in their own gardens - in the very place where they actually have the power to bring about change.Real change begins in our own gardens. If your discussion can swing half a dozen gardeners away from using pesticides, you can say you have achieved something.