Farming groups are sure to be concerned by proposals in the leaked Labour Party manifesto to end the badger cull and ban neonicotinoids.
The draft document, which was supposed to be officially released next week, also pledges to keep fox hunting illegal – in contrast to the Conservative Party which has promised a free vote on the matter for the third election in a row.
NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “Obviously we would like to see the badger cull rolled out.
“On neonicotinoids, it is interesting that Rothamsted announced there is a need to try and find a better way to understand the impact they have on bees. We would agree there is not enough field scale scientific work being done on this and that is what we want to see.
“We know neonicotinoids keep British farmers competitive and it would be difficult to grow certain crops without them. Nowhere else in the world are there any plans to ban them.”
The Crop Protection Association has also expressed its concerns about the proposed ban.
CPA chief executive Sarah Mukherjee said: “We would hope that all party manifestos would demonstrate a science-based, evidence-led approach to policy making. Unfortunately these leaked proposals fall short of that and appear to put politics before robust scientific research.
“The reality is that bee health is a multifactorial and complex issue – bees have been impacted by a multitude of changes in their environment since before the invention of neonicotinoid pesticides; habitat loss, parasitic mites, agricultural and beekeeping practices and climate change.
“Blaming neonicotinoids without addressing these other factors will do very little to improve the viability of bee populations.
“Our exit from the EU provides the UK with an opportunity to design an agricultural policy that ensures UK farming can compete with the rest of the world.
“We look forward to working with the next government, whatever its political hue, to develop a regulatory environment that fosters innovation, attracts research and development investment and protects human health and the environment.”
The Labour Party plans to push ahead with its manifesto official launch next week, where all the policies will be ‘fully costed’.