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Bayer hits back at pollution allegations after neonicotinoids detected in rivers

Bayer Crop Science has hit back at intensified calls for a full ban on neonicotinoids after traces of the chemicals were detected in rivers across the UK.


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Bayer hits back at pollution allegations after #neonics detected in rivers

In 2016, the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales sampled 23 sites for the presence of neonicotinoids for the first time, and found 74 per cent of the rivers tested positive.

 

There are no official neonicotinoid concentration limits for water, but scientists exploring the impact of the chemicals on aquatic insects have set out ‘chronic’ and ‘acute’ levels in their research.

 

Using these measurements, environmental charity BugLife claimed eight rivers exceeded the chronic limit and two exceeded the acute limit, with the River Waveney the most heavily affected.

 

Higher concentrations of thiamethoxam were also found in the Wensum, leading the charity to point the finger at sugar beet fields as the probable source.

 

Disputed

 

But Dr Julian Little, head of government affairs at Bayer, told Farmers Guardian the company ‘absolutely disputed the conclusions drawn’, and explained it was difficult to verify the raw data BugLife had used.

 

“In reality, the fact you can find tiny amounts of pesticide in a river should not be a surprise”, he said.

 

“With today’s technology, it is possible to find almost anything anywhere.

 

“Looking at the information from the Environment Agency, they detected clothianidin in eight river catchments 410 times over the year, but only on 22 occasions did it exceed an arbitrary limit of one microgram per litre of river water.

 

Puzzled

 

“We are somewhat puzzled by the observation that 15 of the 22 occasions were in the River Waveney catchment area, with the other seven spread among the other 7 catchment areas studied. Similarly with thiamethoxam.

 

“So from our perspective, a need to understand what is strange about this river catchment compared to the rest of the UK is the critical outcome.

 

“The moral outrage from BugLife is to be expected, but since there appears to be no correlation between areas where neonics are used and where they appear in rivers, and the UK Government’s own Biodiversity Indicator data suggest the numbers of bees, butterflies and hover flies in England have stabilised since 2009, it is important to put these figures into perspective.”


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