by Steffan Browning
The European Commission has just announced exciting plans to restrict the use of bee harming pesticides across Europe.
We need to get the health of bees on the agenda of our Government so that we can protect these vital little insects.
I wrote to the Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee yesterday to get this on the agenda.
Here is my letter, I will keep you updated on our progress.
To Mr Shane Adern
Member for Taranaki-King Country and
Chair of Primary Industry Select Committee
Further to my raising bee industry issues in conversation at select committee, I am now more formally raising this with you, particularly following some recent decisions.
I am sure you are aware of the European Commission’s recent decision to put restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids across Europe due to concerns about their impact on pollinators, especially bees.
As the select committee that looks at agriculture, I feel it is our responsibility to assess this issue from a New Zealand perspective. Bees are an undervalued but absolutely crucial part of agriculture and producing food; we cannot take risks with their survival. New Zealand’s National Beekeepers Association estimates that bees contribute $5.1 billion to New Zealand’s economy.
New Zealand has 30 products containing these neonicotinoids approved for agricultural use and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering the application for another. It would be very useful to know what restrictions are currently in place on the use of these chemicals. The Ministers for Environment and Primary Industries have both confirmed to me that New Zealand does not do any monitoring of the use of neonicotinoids.
I am copying in the Clerk of the Committee, Ciaria Lee with the intent that you, as Chair add a notice of business to the Primary Production Select Committee agenda to discuss receiving a briefing on the health of bees.
A briefing was, in 2011, received by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee but was not resolved and so did not result in a report or any recommendations. The issue of pollinator security is more closely suited to the Primary Production committee because of the importance of pollinators to our agricultural sector, and equally the impact of our agricultural activities on bee health.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your support on this issue.