I am relieved that thiamethoxam will now not be used on sugar beet fields in England this year. The emergency authorisation for use of this pesticide was subject to strict conditions, including modelling projecting that the level of virus yellows infection would reach 9% across the national sugar beet crop. Due to cold weather in January and February, modelling projected a lower level of infection, and therefore the seed treatment will not be used.
This is a good example of the strict conditions surrounding any emergency authorisations in action. Neonicotinoid use is a last resort for extreme circumstances, and as those circumstances were not met, the neonicotinoid will not be used. I hope this will reassure people of the robustness of the emergency authorisation system.
I believe it is necessary to retain the option of emergency authorisations to use neonicotinoids in rare, extreme, short-term, and strictly controlled circumstances, in line with other European countries. It is important that we can protect plant life from diseases and pests if all other reasonable options fail.
At the same time, it is vital that we protect pollinators, and the robust restrictions on neonicotinoid use help achieve that. The Government is also developing a National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which will help further minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment. Moreover, the National Pollinator Strategy sets out a blueprint for improving the status of pollinator insect species in England.