Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry into Insects and Insecticides

25 September 2012

The Committee has launched a new inquiry into the impact of insecticides on bees and other insects.

On 18 September, Defra published an analysis of the results of its review of research done earlier in the year on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees. It concluded that the studies did not justify changing existing regulations, but also that it was undertaking further research itself and would produce a new risk assessment for bees by the end of 2012.

The Committee will examine the basis on which Defra decided not to take action at this stage and whether such a course is justified by the available evidence. Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, wrote to The Guardian last week announcing aspects that the Committee inquiry would examine:

  • The use (or abuse) of evidence in this particular case, for setting policy and regulations on pesticides.
  • The application of real-world – ‘field’ – data. What monitoring there is of actual – rather than recommended – levels of pesticide usage, and the extent to which that influences policy on pesticides.
  • Any potential impacts of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides on human health.
  • What alternative pest-control measures should be used, such as natural predators and plant breeding for insect-resistance, in a bid to make UK farming more insect- and bee-friendly.

The Chair of the Committee wrote last week:

“We will be announcing details of the inquiry soon. In the meantime, Defra ministers may want to start doing their homework on pesticide policy and biodiversity, because we will be calling them before Parliament to answer questions on these issues. In particular, we will be scrutinising the evidence behind the Government's decision not to revise pesticide regulations or follow other European countries in temporarily suspending the use of insecticides linked to bee decline.”

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by Friday 2 November, although later submissions may be accepted. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.


Media Information: Nick Davies   020 7219 3297   / 07917488141

For written submissions to the Committee, please note:

Each submission should ideally:

  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked ‘Insecticides’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Guide for Witnesses to House of Commons Select Committees (PDF PDF 1.25 MB)

Please also note that:

  • Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  •  Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Image: iStockphoto

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