This is a story with everything: bees, junk science, the French behaving badly, the EU at its worst… (H/T Richard North at EUreferendum).
You’ll read it and go: “Yes! This is why I hate the EU. This is why it can never be reformed: because corruption and lies and horsetrading and an unaccountable bureaucracy of imperious apparatchiks and an inbuilt antipathy to business and free markets aren’t unfortunate and rare byproducts of the system. They ARE the system.”
It follows on from something I wrote a few months ago about the campaign to ban neonicotinoids. I gave the piece the heading Bees, Pesticides and More Green Lies because that was the essence of the story. Green campaigners (aided and abetted by the usual celebrity rentamob) decided that the reason bee populations were suffering was because of a certain kind of pesticide in the neonicotinoid group which was causing their colonies to collapse. Never mind that neonicotinoids were, as North puts it, the fruits of years of development at a cost of millions, and vital to British agriculture; never mind that the evidence that they were causing bee deaths was small to non-existent. The Greenies had them in their sights and there was an end to it: on went the bee costumes, up went the placards, out came Vivienne Westwood and Stephen Fry, and really, if the only place you got your information was the mainstream media that would have been all you would have ever heard of it. You’d have known – simply because you did: it was a known fact – that neonicotinoids were killing bees and had to be banned.
Except a) it wasn’t true and b) the story gets murkier and murkier.
We now know that the EU ban on neonicotinoids in May this year was enacted not on the basis of any hard scientific evidence, but rather as a result of manoeuvrings by a socialist French ex-MEP named Stéphane Le Foll. Le Foll it was who masterminded François Hollande’s election campaign and who, on his subsequent appointment as Minister of Agriculture, sought to use a ban on neocotinoids as a way of both burnishing his green credentials and of currying favour with France’s militant agricultural lobby and the (yes, the French have a union for everything) National Union of French Apiculture (UNAF). Among the victims of the subsequent ban was Cruiser OSR, a neonicotinoid pesticide often used on oil seed rape, despite there being no hard evidence that its active ingredient thiamethoxam was harmful to bees except in doses much higher than when it was used in the field.