Beekeeper protest calls for pesticide ban

Bee protestors
Image caption Beekeepers say 73% of the British public support the proposed ban

Beekeepers and their supporters have protested in Parliament Square to call for the government to support a ban on pesticides linked to the death of bees.

Research suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides have significant adverse affects on the survival rate of bees.

The protest comes ahead of a vote on a European Union proposal to ban the use of the chemicals.

Britain has previously refused to back the ban saying the effect of these chemicals on bees is unclear.

'Finely balanced'

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of nature conservation organisation Buglife, said: "Britain abstained last time and has made no commitment this time, but we want them to support a ban across Europe."

According to Mr Shardlow 73% of the British public support the proposed ban.

The demonstrators, some of whom were dressed in beekeeper outfits or wearing yellow and black stripes, have the support of fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett who delivered a petition in support of the ban to the Prime Minister.

But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said that a ban is not justified at present.

Defra's chief scientist Dr Ian Boyd admitted the research was "very finely balanced".

"Neonicotinoids will kill bees, let me be absolutely clear about that. It is what numbers do they kill and whether it affects populations - the question is whether banning them in any way would be proportional and at the moment the balance of evidence suggests it wouldn't be," he said.

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