BREXIT could prove disastrous for bees, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has warned.

While the EU Commission is poised to introduce a ban on controversial neonicotinoid pesticides, she says some MEPs are seeking to block such a ban.

She said MEPs were being lobbied by the National Farmers Union is keen continue using neonicotinoids, widely blamed for sharp declines in bee numbers across the globe.

“In 2015, the then Farming Minister, George Eustice, lifted an EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides under an ‘emergency authorisation’ claiming there was ‘a lot of ambiguity’ about the evidence,” Dr Scott Cato said.

However, a recent UN report was scathing about neonicotinoids and deeply critical of the agri-chemical corporations that manufacture them. It accused giant manufacturers such as Bayer and Syngenta of the ‘systematic denial of harms’, ‘aggressive, unethical marketing tactics’ and heavy lobbying of governments which has ‘obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions’.

Dr Scott Cato added: “The EU is presenting us with a great opportunity to rid Europe of these hugely harmful and totally unnecessary pesticides that have had such a devastating effect on bee populations. Consumer pressure and undeniable scientific evidence has brought us to this point.

“With Brexit negotiations starting today, I will continue to do all I can to defend crucial environmental regulations from attack by corporate giants and complicit politicians.”

However NFU vice president Guy Smith said a blanket ban of neonicotinoids on outdoor crops would be devastating for farms across the country.

“The numbers of pests are rising across the country and dealing with these pressures is costly,” he said.

“Nowhere else in the world are farmers under threat from losing neonicotinoid insecticides as they produce food under the threat from insects.

“By denying UK farmers these key crop production tools, our competitors who have access to these products are being gifted the advantage in the market.”