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FoE prepares ground for potential legal challenge over neonics

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Following the UK Government’s decision to temporarily lift the ban on neonicotinoids last week, Friends of the Earth (FoE) has said that it is taking legal steps over the move.

The environmental group has written a judicial review pre-action letter to Liz Truss, secretary for the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as a precursor to a possible legal challenge.

Friends the Earth’s bees campaigner Paul de Zylva commented: “The huge public interest in bee decline and pesticide use contrasts with the Government’s excessive secrecy and handling of this decision to let bee-harming pesticides back into our fields this autumn. We have now sent a legal letter because of the lack of information, raising concerns about the decision-making process and the lawfulness of the decision.”

The government’s decision came after the National Union of Farmers (NFU) made a second ‘emergency’ application after its initial request to use neonicotinoid seed treatments on some oilseed rape crops was rejected by DEFRA.

The decision means that two treatments from Bayer and Syngenta can now be used to treat 5% of England’s oil seed rape crop (around 30,000 hectares) in farms across four counties: Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The use extends to a period of 120 days.

FoE has asked the government to come clean on the science and has requested answers by 4 August.

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