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Extra funding for bee health research 'step in right direction'

October 5, 2009 6:00 PM

Tim with members of the British Bee Keeping AssociationDEFRA's pledge to give an extra £1 million to undertake more research into the health of bees has been welcomed by Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA Tim Farron as a "step in the right direction" for the survival of Britain's bee colonies.

Under proposals announced today by Hilary Benn, Scientists at the Rothemstead Research centre in Hertfordshire and Warwick University will be funded by the Government's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), in partnership with biotech giant Syngenta, to investigate the factors causing the decline.

Bees contribute £165 million to the agricultural economy every year through honey production and cross pollination of plants and crops. Over the past two years, however, there has been a 30% reduction in the population of domestic honey bees, leading to Mr Farron to call on the Government to front load the extra investment to ensure that the British bee population is not destroyed forever.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"I'm delighted that Defra has found this money to investigate the causes of the alarming decline in UK honey bee population, but also that they finally seem to have woken up to the important role that can be played by scientific bodies outside of the Government's own remit.

"However it's important to put this money into perspective. By way of a comparison, in the USA the research funding for Colony Collapse Disorder is put at £40m per year.

"With that in mind, it's important that DEFRA realise that today's announcement will only fund one battle and that winning the war itself will cost far more."