I share your deep concern about the worldwide decline in bee population.
The current position in Scotland is that European Union legislation does not allow three neonicotinoid insecticides to be used on crops with flowers that are attractive to bees. The restrictions came into force on 1 December 2013. None of the areas which received exemptions from the NFU appeal are in Scotland.
The European Commission has begun a review, and will be considering research findings that have been published since the restrictions came into force in December 2013. Europe’s restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids will only be lifted if research shows that the use of these pesticides in the field is not contributing to the decline in bee numbers.
You specifically mention your concern that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU may result in the ban on neonicotinoids, which has its basis in EU regulations, lapsing. I and my SNP colleagues are concerned about a great number of sectors which will be impacted negatively by Brexit. However, as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, we will do all that we can to protect Scotland’s place in the EU and the benefits of EU membership that the people of Scotland enjoy.
My SNP colleagues and I are committed to taking a precautionary approach to neonicotinoids. In light of concerns about the effectiveness of UK Government-funded field trials, it is essential that decisions are made on the basis of sound research. Please allow me to reassure you that the SNP Scottish Government will not support any relaxation of the restrictions unless there is clear evidence that neonicotinoids do not pose a threat to insect pollinators.