The NFU has submitted a revised application for the emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments over a limited area of England’s oilseed rape (OSR) crop this autumn.
Farming Minister George Eustice rejected initial applications by the NFU and AHDB in May for use of the banned chemicals to protect OSR from cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) damage.
This followed a recommendation from the Government’s UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP).
It found the application contained insufficient information to ensure use would be limited only to areas where there is a danger or threat to plant protection.
It also concluded the proposed stewardship arrangements did not offer adequate assurance ’use would be controlled in an appropriate fashion’.
The NFU has made some key changes to its application to answer the questions raised by the Expert Committee on Pesticides and demonstrate the application is ’limited and controlled’.
The revised application looks again at AHDB data showing cabbage stem flea beetle pressure across the country.
NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “I cannot overstate how vital neonicotinoid seed treatments are for protecting crops facing pressure from cabbage stem flea beetle.
“I am quite convinced that if next autumn we have a difficult establishment window for oilseed rape then many farmers are going to lose their crops without neonicotinoids.
“Evidence from research institutions such as Rothamsted clearly shows we have an increasing pyrethroid resistance problem in pests and this is well-evidenced with cabbage stem flea beetle.
"Farmers cannot control the pest in areas with high resistance without these critical seed treatments. Continued resistance to pyrethroids just isn’t sustainable for farm businesses.”
The NFU successfully secured an emergency use application across four counties in 2015, having had an initial application rejected.
Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns, Andrew Pendleton said: “Having last month turned down the NFU’s application to use bee-harming pesticides, it would be doubly reckless to allow their use now and also completely unnecessary.
"However, last year the Government caved in to their special pleading after first turning them down.
“Oilseed rape yields have actually risen since the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was introduced, while the evidence of the harm these chemicals pose to bees has increased.
“Bees are essential for pollinating our crops - we can’t afford to gamble with their future. The Expert Committee and the government must uphold the ban and keep these dangerous pesticides out of our fields.”