Hundreds join “March of Beekeepers” on Parliament

Friday 26th April 2013

Today, over 100 beekeepers from across the UK marched on Parliament in opposition to the Government’s plans to oppose a ban on bee killing pesticides in a crucial EU vote on Monday.

The rally of over 400 people was organised by 12 of Britain’s leading campaigning groups and backed by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett and Rachel Whiteread.

Watch Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive Stephen Trotter talking ahead of the March of the Beekeepers and Debyshire Wildlife Trust's Tim Birch speaking after the event.

Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF, who helped organise the rally, said:
“By refusing to support a ban on deadly pesticides this government has been ignoring the best science, flying in the face of public opinion and bowing to the agrochemical industry. The nation’s beekeepers are marching today and urging Paterson to listen to the huge numbers of british voters calling on him to Save the Bees by voting on Monday to protect them.”

On Monday 29 April, the European Commission will put forward a new legislation to all EU member states which calls for a significant ban on neonicotinoid insecticides. This year a report by the European Food Safety Authority identified that there was a high risk to honey bees from these common neonicotinoids which are used on 1.2 million hectares of the British countryside.

Member states already voted on this key piece of legislation back in February and it failed to go through.  A number of countries including the UK argued against the ban. The vote is now at the appeal process.

Iain Keith, senior campaigner at Avaaz who helped organise the rally, said:
"The impact of neonicotinoids on the massive demise of our bees is clear yet Owen Paterson seems unable to escape the haze of sloppy science and lobbying by powerful pesticide giants. 70% of people across this country want these poisons banned. Paterson has until Monday to reconsider the science and the public, we must not send the bees to chemical armageddon."

Britain is one of the few countries in Europe that is likely to either abstain or vote no on Monday when key officials meet to decide whether they will agree to a two year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Spain and Italy are all likely to back the ban and of the major countries, only Germany and Britain are expected to raise opposition to it.

Katharine Hamnett. who attended the event said:  “It's essential that Britain supports the EU proposed ban on Neonicotinoid pesticides. Beekeepers, scientists and other experts support the ban. Britain has got to stop dragging its feet and do the right thing.”

After the “March of the Beekeepers”, the petition signed by 2.6 million people -- including 600,000 in the UK -- was delivered to 10 Downing Street by Katherine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood.

The March of the Beekeepers has been supported by Avaaz, Buglife, Client Earth, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Beekeeping Trust, Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK), RSPB, Soil Association, The Wildlife Trusts and 38 Degrees.

There's more information at our 'protecting pollinators' page, where you can show your support and call for neonicotinoids to be banned by signing this petition.

L-R:  Derbyshire WT's Peter Lee, Warwickshire WT's Steve Trotter and Derbyshire WT's Tim Birch

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