To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent analysis his Department has undertaken on the long term impacts of historical pesticide usage on (a) bee and (b) wild pollinator numbers.
22 October 2021
Linking pesticide usage directly to changes in pollinator numbers remains challenging because of the range of pressures which affect pollinators. In 2019, alongside leading academics, we published evidence statements on what is known, and not known, about the status and responses to pressures and management of pollinators, including in relation to pesticide use. We are currently funding research looking at how we could develop our monitoring to better understand the effects of pesticides on pollinators, as well as routes of exposure.
Defra is developing a Pesticide Load Indicator which takes account of both the chemical properties of pesticides used and the weight applied. This uses pesticide usage data, ecotoxicity and environmental data to better understand how the pressure from pesticides on the environment, including bees, has changed over time. Much of this research will be published in 2022.
We also publish an indicator of the status of pollinating insects, which measures how widespread each of almost 400 species is in each year since 1980. It shows long-term decline, but little change over the short term. Although not yet definitive, there are encouraging signs of improvement, for example the average distribution of wild bees has shown some stability over recent years. We are keeping these trends under review.