Sam Dixon MP
Sam Dixon MP

Samantha Dixon, Member of Parliament for the City of Chester has led a Westminster Hall Debate on the Environmental impact of neonicotinoids and other pesticides.  

The debate held on 5th March follows news that the Government have approved ‘emergency’ use of neonicotinoids for the fourth year in a row, raising serious concerns from MPs, campaigners, beekeepers, and environmentalists.  

The use of most neonicotinoids was severely restricted in 2013 in the EU and UK due to their potential negative impact on bees and other pollinators.  

Commenting on the Government’s decision during the debate Samantha said:  

“This decision is yet again ill-judged and wrong.  

“It directly contradicts our national and international obligations, such as the commitment to halt species loss by 2030 and the obligation under the GBF (Global Biodiversity Framework) to reduce the overall risk from pesticides by at least half. 

“These decisions are being made against expert advice. They are being waved through without a Parliamentary vote. And they are being made on the basis that they are temporary and a case of an emergency. Have we really had an emergency for four years in a row? Or is this just the Government’s way of nodding through harmful practice on a yearly basis?” 

Raising concerns about the serious impact these pesticides can have on bees and other pollinators, Samantha continued:  

“It is well known that neonicotinoid pesticides can be very harmful to a wide range of insects and invertebrates, including, of course, our beloved bees. They affect the nervous systems of bees and other insects, resulting in paralysis and eventually death. In fact, academic and author, Professor Dave Goulson, has warned that just one teaspoon of this type of chemical is enough to kill 1.25 billion honeybees, that’s equivalent to four lorryloads.”   

Reflecting on the impact neonicotinoids can have on our waterways and farming Samantha added:  

“Harmful neonicotinoids have now been found in more than 10% of English rivers, despite a widespread ban of these chemicals in 2018. In more than half of the rivers where neonics were detected, they were at levels which posed a significant risk to wildlife. 

“I back our farmers, and I am concerned that sugar beet farmers are experiencing a difficult time. However, lifting the ban is not the way forward.  

“In fact, DEFRA’s own economic analysis found there was little impact of the beet yellows virus on sugar beet yield in untreated crops. 

“We must find a science-led way forward that protects our bees and safeguards our future biodiversity, but also support the farming sector by support initiatives promoting alternative, bee-friendly pesticides and sustainable farming methods.  

“Despite the emergency authorisation being granted in 2022 and 2023, the proportion of farmers who decided against using neonics was 29% and 40% respectively. This shows that an increasing number of growers are trying to farm in a way that does not harm nature or rivers –yet there is no support for these growers from the industry or Government.  

“Government has instead focused on short term solutions that will undermine the long-term sustainability of the farming sector and disadvantage those growers trying to do the best for nature.” 

During the debate Samantha called on the Government to comment on the assessment they have made of the impact of their emergency authorisation of neonicotinoids for the past four years, explain why they ignored expert advice on this issue and asked for the urgent publication of the long-awaited report on the use of sustainable pesticides.  

Commenting after the debate, Samantha said:  

“I was pleased to have secured this important debate and be able to raise this outrageous authorisation of harmful pesticides. Without our pollinators we will have no nature, no biodiversity and no agriculture. It was great to see Members from across the House come together to add their voice on this matter.  

“I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contacted me ahead of the debate including local beekeepers, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Chester Zoo”  

You can look at Samantha’s full contribution here: 


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