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If any of you heard Kate on Gardener's Question Time last week, she gave a very brave defence of wildlife in the face of a concerted 'push' from the BBC to sell us the idea that Neonicotinoid Pesticides are 'alright if used according to manufacturers instructions'.  Kate pointed out that the latest research from Stirling University has revealed that bumblebees that come into contact with systemic neonicotinoids produce 85% fewer queens each year - which effectively means extinction.  Speaking as a beekeeper, more than 10,000,000 colonies of bees have been destroyed globally by neonicotinoids since they were introduced in France in 1992.  America is currently losing over a million colonies per year (and they only have 3 million!).

This is what Kate said on GQT:


Well I have to agree with John Hall, the beekeeper from Shropshire, recent research has shown that honeybees are less able to navigate back to their hives; bumblebee queens produced 85% fewer new queens in the wild, and this is potentially catastrophic for bees.


There is really no need for gardeners to be using these pesticides, I don't think any plants are worth losing our bees over, there lots of natural controls; in the case of aphids just wait for the ladybirds and hoverflies to come along and eat the aphids; birds also feed aphids to their young; vine weevils can be dealt with by nematodes; scale insects can be picked off by birds. So I agree with John Hall (beekeeper) completely."

ERIC ROBSON replied:
"And it should be said that the manufacturers of those pesticides refute everything that Kate Bradbury said. We did talk to DEFRA as well and they said that they are looking at the new data – but so far they see “no cause for concern” and they pointed out that “all pesticides are of course extensively tested before they are given authorisation for amateur use”


Eric Robson's cringe-making comment in which he rubbished and disowned everything that Kate Bradbury had just said (on behalf of the BBC) – suggests that he was under BBC orders to promote the safety and innocence of systemic insecticides at all costs. His remark that 'the manufacturers “refute everything that Kate has just said” was simply gutless journalism.

The truth is that if you use ANY systemic neonicotinoid in our garden, those plants will remain hyper-toxic to bees, butterflies and all pollinators which come into contact the poisoned pollen and nectar.  Please donwload and read this article here:





Furthermore the recourse to simply parroting the DEFRA line that ' everything is tested, everything is safe” was pathetic. He didn't ask a single question about WHO does the testing.







  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I don't listen to GQT, so thank you for telling us about it, and for your defense of Kate's viewpoint.

    For some reason, simply trying to click on the link you gave didn't work. I'll try this:

    This link does seem to work.

    Note also that there are posts on this forum, posted within the past couple of days, where some forum members have recommended spraying plants with Bayer Provado. Provado contains precisely these chemicals.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    All theses debates are a matter of opinion-I am of the opinion that pesticides sold is this country are safe and have been tested-no gardener or grower has any interest in wiping out bees or any other kind of wildlife

    I didn't listen to the programme either -my guess is that the presenter was just giving the other side for balance-also I doubt that he would class even himself as a journalist

    I am not sure that Kate is speaking on behalf of the BBC-is that what is being stated?-also what evidence is there about a "push" from the BBC to promote these products-why would or should there be-there is no advantage to the BBC is there?


  • I'm afraid that the BBC has been under huge pressure from the pesticide manufacturers and the Crop Protection Association, as well as their highly paid PR company. The line they take is that the BBC must always offer a 'balanced view' - so if Monty Don or Pippa Greenwood refuse to advocate the 'choice' of using systemic pesticides, then ergo the BBC is guilty of 'unbalanced reporting.'

    There was a huge row last month when Monty Don was placed under huge pressure by his Producers, who tried to force him to advocate the use of Bayer's 'Provado bug Killer' as a treatment for Lily Beetles.   Systemic neonicotinoids remain inside the sap, leaves and flowers of a plant for the entire growing season and render the pollen and nectar of any flower lethal to bees and butterflies.

    Monty Don refused to promote neonics, and was allegedly threatened with being sacked if he did not play ball.  His response was to go to the Press and challenge the BBC to sack him; he flatly refused to promote pesticides on his programme.

    Many other presenters are allegedly under similar pressure to always mention that viewers should have 'the choice' of using these hyper toxic poisons on their flowers.

    Pippa Greenwood was taken to task by John  Hall - a beekeeper from Shropshire last week, for recommending that gardeners should use neonicotinoids for some pests. The irony is that Pippa is an advocate for organic gardening - who would not use these poisons herself; maybe she has been 'leant on'.?

    TV presenter Monty Don has hit out at his BBC employers, saying he will not follow their advice on making viewers aware of nor-organic alternatives

     Monty Don embroiled in row with BBC employers after refusing to follow advice to make viewers aware of non-organic products

    Gardening has won him many admirers. For BBC chiefs, however, it seems the presenter’s faith is a bit too deep-rooted.

    On his Gardeners’ World show on BBC2, he advised viewers that the ‘only way’ to get rid of the lily beetle – which strips plants of their leaves and flowers – ‘is to hand-pick them and then destroy them’.

    His advice enraged pesticide manufacturers. In an article in a horticultural journal, they criticised him for not mentioning that their products could also remove the insect.

    But instead of standing by their man, the BBC told his critics: ‘Monty often mentions non-organic alternatives and we will endeavour to ensure this is more consistent in future.’

    Don, who is president of the Soil Association, was distinctly unimpressed. He said the statement had ‘irritated’ him, adding: ‘It is a classic case of the BBC not wanting to offend anyone  and trying to be fair and reasonable – but at the same time getting it wrong.

    ‘It it nonsense, because there is nothing here that they need to defend.&rsquo

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I was aware of the Daily Mail article and also Monty Don's position in the Soil Association-to be fair to the BBC they are obliged to give a balanced view- this situation would appear to be more of a stand -off by Monty Don than anything-I believe he is in a second year of a 2 year contract and without speculating-which I am about to do- than this allows him get out for him if he chooses.

    As for the GQT time sequence that again is obviously a set up to get the balanced view bit broadcast and into the wider domain -that is not going to happen on GW by all accounts

    As gardeners I feel personally that we take the sensible route- that is organic- with a chemical use if that fails.

  • sotongeoffwrote:

    "All theses debates are a matter of opinion-I am of the opinion that pesticides sold is this country are safe and have been tested-no gardener or grower has any interest in wiping out bees or any other kind of wildlife"

    Geoff, I'm afraid that-sadly - it is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact, and if you only look at the history of pesticides in this country, you will see that placing ones faith in 'the regulatory authorities' (DEFRA and CRD) is not a good idea.

    DDT was introduced in 1945 and 'the authorities' told us it was 'perfectly safe'.  The evidence that DDT was responsible for the deaths of millions of birds, including peregrines, was proven by Derek Ratcliffe in the late 1950s - but it was not banned until 1979.  Five years ago the W.I. agreed to have 1500 female volunteers tested for pesticides in their blood, breast tissue and urine.  Ruth Bond, the chairwoman, said that she only took part 'to encourage the other W.I. members as it were.  They found DDT in the breast tissue and blood of every single one of the 1500 women tested.  Ruth Bond discovered she had 22 different pesticides present in her blood, including DDT.  And that is more than 25 years after DDT was banned.

    It is estimated that over 60% of all cancers are linked to our consumption of organochlorine crop pesticides since the 1950s.  They were finally banned (aldrin, dieldrin etc) in the 1970s, but 'the authorities' then licensed organophosphates -derived from nerve gas technology.  These too were said to be 'perfectly safe' - and were widely used as sheep dips (compulsory - farmers had no choice).  As a direct result, thousands of farmers came down with MS, Parkinsons and host of neurological illnesses; the authorities denied to the end that OPs were the cause, but Europe banned them early this century.

    They were replaced with neonicotinoids -also derived from nerve gas science.

    We are assured that they are 'safe' - but they are designed to attack the nervous system of bees - and 10 million colonies have died worldwide since 1992. 

    Do you see a pattern beginning to emerge here?


  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I do not want to get into a long debate here-but will ask you this-what motivation is there for any gardener or grower to want to wipe out out bees or any other wildlife just as a casualty of war against aphids?

    These pesticides will only sell if there is a demand-I do feel people are more enlightened than they were in the 20th century-and I have lived in both centurys

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I grow lilies and I have no difficulty in spotting the red beetles and removing them. I can't really understand why anyone should actually need a spray. It seems so easy to control the beetles manually.

    I didn't know that Monty had had a row with the BBC about this. Good old Monty!

  •  Hi Geoff, like you I don't believe any gardener or farmer would want to exterminate wildlife in garden or field.  But both we and the farmers have been lied to - on a scale that would justify the phrase "the greatest lie in history".  Gardeners are told that the systemic neonics are 'safe' because 'all pesticides are tested and DEFRA has full confidence'.  What they don't tell us is that the only testing that is ever done is  done by the pesticide manufacturers or their paid researchers in universities. DEFRA and the CRD carry out no testing whatever. Which raises an obvious question: if the regulator relies entirely on data supplied by the pesticide manufacturer, why would the manufacturer ever supply data that proved his product was dangerous to wildlife?  The French Govt investigated neonics in 1998 after the death of a million French bee colonies; they decided that they were deadly to bees- highly toxic, present in pollen and nectar, persistent for month in the plant, persistent in soil for years.  The ban has never been rescinded despite enormous lobbying by Bayer.  Germany banned neonics in 2010 after the loss of 10,000 colonies in the Rhineland in a single week, when neonics were used on maize and the dust got loose.  Italy banned them in 2009 after a massive bee-kill in the Po Valley.  

    Farmers have no choice because it is now almost impossible to buy seeds of wheat, barley, oilseed rape, potatoes etc that are NOT already pre-treated with neonics.  There is growing evidence that almost all the plants we buy in trays from garden centres - certainly all the bulbs and plants that come from Holland, have been pre-treated with neonics before we buy them. Innocent gardeners, who consider theselves 'organic' are stocking their gardens with plants that are highly poisonous to bees - completely unware that their trays of plants, tulip and lily bulbs are pre-saturated with neonicotinoids.

    I have been a beekeeper since 1990 and have always kept ten hives. Until about 2000 I lived in an area where there were no arable crops (dairy land) - I rarely lost a hive in winter. Now, I live in an area of intensive arable crops - and 50% of my hives die every year; I have not had a honey harvest since 2006, because the hives never make enough to justify taking it.

    Anyway, please don't be afraid to debate, or take a devil's advocate position; the truth about this has been hidden from us - vast sums of money are at stake for the pesticide manufacturers - more than £1.2 billion a year on just one neonic.

    Check out the Crop Protection Association's Annual Report here:


    Agricultural and horticultural herbicides, fungicides and insecticides sales rose six per cent to £552.6m. Some 18,211 tonnes of active ingredients were used in the UK, up by 16 per cent.

    Garden and household product sales were flat at £53.7m, with herbicides one per cent down at £35m and insecticides nine per cent down at £6m"



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I will withdraw from the discussion at this point-I think in gardening there is room for all methods and big business has a part to play-also I am not convinced they are all bad guys

    I genuinely wish you well in your endeavours

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I really don't know whether Provodo is dangerous, or not. As I see it, it's simply unnecessary in domestic gardens. So the question is not relevant where my garden is concerned.

    Whether farmers should be using these products is a different question. Those who have the biggest interest in a healthy bee population are farmers. They are the ones who need to make informed decisions. Their livelihoods depend on it.

    I do know that without industrialised agriculture and distribution we would not be able to feed the population of the world.

    If we are concerned about these issues, then we can all do a lot more to make our own gardens eco-friendly, before worrying about what farmers and other people are doing.

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