Local beekeepers and their customers are being urged to support an online campaign to urge Environment Minister Owen Paterson not to vote against protecting bees in an important European vote on pesticide control tomorrow (Friday).
The proposal would enact a European-wide suspension of the pesticides being blamed for killing bees. The national Guardian reports that almost three-quarters of the UK public back a ban, according to a poll released on Wednesday, but the UK is not currently expected to support the measure when the European Commission votes on it, leaving it little chance of being passed.
An online petition is fast approaching three million votes in favour of stopping their use and campaign group 38 Degrees has organised a last-minute letter writing campaign to MPs asking them to contact the Environment Minister to vote for the ban.
While chemical manufacturers claim that a suspension would reduce food production, a series of high-profile scientific studies in the last year has increasingly linked neonicotinoids to harmful effects in bees, including huge losses in the number of queens produced, and big increases in "disappeared" bees – those that fail to return from food foraging trips.
Some campaigners are reminded of similar concerns raised about DDT in the 1960s - eventually proven to be accurate and that chemical withdrawn, but not before it caused environmental damage.
Locally, there are 140 members of the Lancaster Beekeeper Society, whose livelihood depends on healthy bees.
• Owen Paterson set to scupper EU plans to ban pesticides linked to bee harm
• Avaaz Bee Petition
• 38 Degrees Letter Writing Campaign