UK designers Westwood, Hamnett join campaign to save bees

Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:21am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Top British fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett joined bee campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Friday to urge the government to support a proposed European Union (EU) ban on pesticides which harm bees.

Britain is currently one of a group of countries blocking attempts to introduce a Europe-wide ban on the world's most widely used insecticides, neonicotinoids, arguing their impact on bees is unclear.

A vote takes place in Brussels on April 29 on whether to ban the poisons on flowering crops.

"If there's any chance that they're killing the bees as a precautionary measure they need to be banned," Hamnett, who has campaigned against pesticides for decades, told Reuters TV.

"The British government is committing political suicide I think by not supporting this ban."

Britain, Germany and three other countries abstained from a vote earlier this year.

Hamnett questioned whether this was because two major pesticide companies, Germany's Bayer and Swiss company Syngenta, which has operations in Britain, are lobbying against the ban, saying the impact of pesticides on bees is unproven.

"Are they in bed with Syngenta or Bayer or are they just stupid?" said Hamnett.

The companies have proposed a plan which includes planting more flowering margins around fields to provide bee habitats, monitoring to detect the neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for the decline, and research into the impact of parasites and viruses.   Continued...

Designer Vivienne Westwood (C), and a person in a Winnie The Pooh costume join campaigners protesting in Parliament Square to urge Britain's government to ban the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, in central London, April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning