The use of neonicotinoids is a deeply important issue and one I worked closely on as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bees and Pollinators.
As the weight of scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees grew, our APPG worked with the Government to ban the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam from December 2017. However, this ban always envisaged that where there was an urgent need to use neonicotinoids, this could be permitted provided the benefits and mitigation outweigh the potential harm.
As such, there is a complex and stringent application process to acquire emergency, time limited (no more than 120 days) authorisation to use neonicotinoids in truly exceptional circumstances.
I recognise your concern about maintaining pesticide regulations post-Brexit, but wish to highlight that under EU legislation, member states may also grant emergency authorisations in exceptional circumstances. Indeed, 10 EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain - most EU countries with significant sugar production - have granted emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments following the EU-wide ban.
You can find the Government’s full rationale for their decision to approve the limited use of neonicotinoid products as seed treatment for sugar beets here.
Interestingly in 2018, the Government rejected a previous application to allow neonectioid treatment on sugar beet seeds on the grounds that the risks to bees and the wider environment were too great.
Please find the Government’s 2018 statement of refusal here.
It’s clear that a lot has changed since 2018 - both increasing the need for neonicotinoid use and mitigating their impact on bees and pollinators in the case of sugar beets, but I still have concerns about their use and will continue to work to ensure their application is only permitted in the most urgent situations.