A pesticide believed to harm bees has been authorised for emergency use in England, despite an earlier ban.
In 2018, an almost total ban was put in by the EU and UK because of the serious damage it could cause to bees.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says its use will be limited to this year only.
A spokeswoman told Newsbeat the measures “will be tightly controlled to minimise any potential risk to pollinators”.
Emergency use of a product containing the chemical thiamethoxam has been allowed because a virus is threatening sugar beet seeds.
Scientific studies have long linked the use of these chemicals to the decline of honeybees, wild bees and other animals which pollinate plants.
At the time of the ban, Michael Gove, then environment secretary, said the UK was in favour as it couldn’t “afford to put our pollinator populations at risk”.
But according to Defra, the amount of sugar beet grown in 2020 was reduced due to the yellow virus – and similar conditions in 2021 would cause the same problems, unless it took action.
Along with the UK, 10 EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain – countries with significant sugar production – have granted emergency authorisations.
Milan Wiercx van Rhijn, from the charity Bees for Development feels “disappointed” by the government’s decision.
The 32-year-old says the insects play a vital role in the food chain – with around a third of the food we eat