Government U-turns and authorises toxic, polluting pesticide

Credit- Ben Rushbrook

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is highly concerned to learn the Government has agreed the use of a highly damaging pesticide - neonicotinoid thiamethoxam - for the treatment of sugar beet seed in response to beet yellows virus.

Neonicotinoids are banned across Europe over concerns that they kill bees and other pollinators. Academic and author, Professor Dave Goulson, has warned that one teaspoon of neonic is enough to kill 1.25 billion honeybees, equivalent to four lorryloads.  

In 2017, the UK Government supported restrictions on the neonicotinoid pesticides across the European Union. The Environment Secretary at the time, Michael Gove, gave a commitment to maintain these restrictions post-Brexit unless the scientific evidence changed. 

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust considers that there needs to be a significant reduction in the use of all pesticides, particularly insecticides with this level of effect. As part of our Wilder 2030 strategy we are calling on governments, businesses and the public to play their part in reducing the pressure on nature everywhere. 

'We must not forget that this is a deadly chemical, and even in tiny quantities it kills bees.'

Debbie Tann - Chief Executive of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Chief Executive of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Debbie Tann, said:  

“It’s our job in the Wildlife Trust to push for actions that put nature into recovery.  The ecological crisis we are in is far worse than many people realise, and it is urgent that we find better ways of growing food that improve the situation for wildlife, not make it worse.  The cumulative impact of thousands, millions, of seemingly small decisions over decades are what have led us to this point and we have to turn things around.   

“Whilst the arguments being put forward by the farming industry that this pesticide is needed for sugar beet production may seem perfectly rational, we must not forget that this is a deadly chemical, and even in tiny quantities it kills bees.  If we don’t start cutting back on pesticides now – when will we? “  

Insects perform vital roles such as pollination of crops and wildflowers, and nutrient recycling, but so many have suffered drastic declines. Evidence suggests a loss of at least 50% of insects since 1970, and 41% of all insect species are now 'threatened with extinction'. 

What can you do? 

The Wildlife Trusts have further advice for people on taking action to help insects at home or in communities by becoming an insect champion at

We also have a petition and a simple form that will allow you to send your thoughts straight to your MP and urge them to oppose The Government’s authorisation of neonicotinoid pesticides.  

Are you as alarmed about this as we are?