Parliament will debate e-petition 104796 on 7 December 2015. The petition calls for a halt on the use of neonicotinoids due to their harm to bees and has 90,095 signatures to-date.

This debate pack note provides a quick overview of key developments and background for easy reference.

House of Commons Library briefing paper, Bees and Neonicotinoids, December 2015 provides background to this long-running issue from the introduction of the EU Commission’s restrictions on certain neonicotinoids to current reactions to the UK’s time-limited emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid seed treatments for oil seed rape in four English counties.


  • The use of three neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) have been subject to a 2 year precautionary ban in the EU since December 2013. This is based on concerns that they are causing sub-lethal, harmful impacts on bees.
  • The UK Government is implementing the restrictions but did not support them on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence of the impacts and that the impacts of using alternatives to the insecticides had not been assessed.
  • The EU Commission is currently reviewing the restrictions taking into account “relevant scientific and technical developments”.[1]
  • Although the review is taking place after 2 years of the restrictions, the ban is not time-limited and will stay in place until the Commission decides to change them.
  • In July 2015, the UK Government granted an emergency authorisation for the use of restricted neonicotinoids on oil seed rape seeds after an application from the National Farmers’ Union. This applies for a time-limited period in four English counties and does not affect the overall ban.

[1] European Commission Press Release, Bees and Pesticides: Commission to proceed with plan to better protect bees, 29 April 2013

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