by Peter Mathews
Proposition /03 - "The BBKA shall cease to endorse pesticides and insecticides as soon as contractually possible"
There are some sharply divided opinions on this proposition which was originally discussed in 2003 and 2009. On both previous votes, delegates agreed to support the current policy. Under the standing orders it should not have been on the agenda this year, but a petition organised by Twickenham saw it being discussed again.
Back in 2000, BBKA set up a farmer education programme. As part of this programme BBKA were asked to provide independent guidance on 'bee friendly' insecticides . In the current approval process products are subject to independent testing. Test results are reviewed by the BBKA Technical Committee. Those products meeting requirements are then approved by the BBKA. Suppliers are then allowed to use a form of words agreed by BBKA together with use of the BBKA logo in return for a fee. There are only 4 approved products, all pyrethroids (similar to what we ourselves were using to control varroa!). The total income from fees is £17,000 pa, equivalent to £1 capitation. [N.B. The BBKA does not endorse these products in the normal sense of the word.]
One of the Herts BKA divisions discussed this and agreed unanimously to support the proposition to 'cease endorsement'. Following discussion at the Herts Exec Meeting, the body of opinion was firmly the other way i.e. against the resolution. Further discussion at the ADM resolved two main views:-
- The association of the BBKA logo with insecticides is bad for our public image.
- Delegates with farming connections regarded the use of the logo as providing strong guidance for farmers in selecting a 'bee friendly' spray.
One of the strong arguments against the proposition was that we have suffered no major losses from spray for many years. If we were to withdraw product guidance then farmers might be expected to use the most effective products, which are not 'bee friendly'. The use of the logo in this way is very popular with farmers. One failing in the proposition is that it offered no alternative to the current policy.
The BBKA Exec were themselves divided on this, and expressed no view or opinion. They were happy with either outcome and simply wanted a clear decision from delegates.
Herts BKA voted against the proposition with an informal request that the Executive explore alternative methods of approval with the possible introduction of new labelling and a new logo introduced specifically for this purpose.
Voting for the current product approval policy [ie against the proposition] was 9,829 (7,255) and votes against 4,588 (4,056). The 2009 votes are given in brackets. Thus, the proposition failed, attracting a smaller percentage of the vote than last year.