The NFU has hit back at suggestions neonicotinoids are poisoning farmland birds.
The claims were made in a new book by Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming. He based his findings on research by Dave Goulson, professor of biology at Sussex University.
Professor Goulson has published a paper which claimed a grey partridge would be killed by eating five treated seeds, and a sparrow after two. He also said birds which ate insects were ‘declining more rapidly in areas which use neonics’.
Senior regulatory affairs adviser at the NFU, Dr Chris Hartfield, said evidence from real life field situations did not back up the claims.
“Dave Goulson’s theories about neonicotinoids poisoning birds are simply that – theories – and are not backed up by evidence from real life”, he added.
“In the UK, poisoning of all animals is investigated by the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme. If seed-eating farmland birds were being poisoned as a result of eating neonicotinoid treated seed, you would rightly expect this scheme to be finding these incidents.
“There are no incidents of bird poisoning resulting from the use of neonicotinoids over the last ten years.
“Promoting theories without the evidence to back them up is only going to damage the cause of pollinators and wildlife, and damage the public perception of science in general.”
The claims came as the long-term recovery of stone-curlews was secured by farmers working with the RSPB and Natural England.
New safe nesting habitats away from crops have been created, leading to hopes their UK population will become sustainable over the next five years.