Thursday, October 17News For London

Aldi UK under pressure to restrict pesticides that are killing off bees

European supermarket Aldi is to phase out the use of pesticide neonicotinoids attributed to killing off bees worldwide. But will Aldi UK follow suit?

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Bees in danger of extinction due to widely used pesticides. Photo source: Pixabay.com

In recent years, European discount retailer Aldi has expanded its operation with over 600 outlets in the UK with around 20 stores in the Greater London area.

Aldi Süd – its German branch – has been the first big retailer in Europe to ban eight bee-harming pesticides from domestic fruits and vegetables produced for their markets.

This includes three bee-harming neonicotinoids currently subject to a partial ban across Europe.

But Aldi UK is under pressure to follow suit of its German sister company.

Across the internet, environmental activists and organisations that include Friends of the Earth, Greens4Animals with support from Green Party Caroline Lucas, have intensified the campaign.

 

A spokesperson for Aldi UK told Westminster World: “Aldi UK is a separate business to Aldi Süd, and operates independently from its parent company. At present, Aldi UK require all of their suppliers to meet UK legal requirements on pesticide use.”

It added that its business seeks to “implement an approach suitable for UK farmers and growers” but continually reviews its pesticide policy.

 

EU pesticide policy and UK farmers

In 2013, the European commission proposed a two-year suspension of neonicotinoids after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) deemed their use an “unacceptable risk”, but major nations including UK and Germany failed to back the proposal.

The neonicotinoid ban has hit UK farmers hard. In some parts of the country, the oilseed rape crop has been so badly infected with flea beetle, the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) approved emergency lifting of the ban in 2014.

Controversially, the UK government “gagged” its own expert pesticide advisers, after they refused to back the application by the National Farmers Union to lift the ban on bee-harming chemicals that was suspected to prevent campaigners lobbying ministers on the issue.

A strong commitment to restrict the use of neonics out of  fruit and veg, and cereals – including wheat and oilseed rape – is illustrative of the likely issues to be raised in the forthcoming EU referendum.

Aldi Süd’s move is seen to be important with the hope that Aldi UK and other retailers will soon follow suit.