HL Deb 12 January 1998 vol 584 cc184-5WA
Lord Swinfen

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware that on the Continent the Varroa mite, which attacks domestic and wild honey bees, has developed an immunity to Bayvarol, the only licensed product with which to treat bees; and what steps they are taking to make it legal for the United Kingdom beekeepers to use substances such as talc, formic or lactic acid which cannot be licensed as they occur naturally.

Lord Donoughue

The Government are monitoring the situation on the Continent but are not aware of any incidence of varroa mite resistance in the United Kingdom.

The question of any application for authorisation of new veterinary medicines to control varroa mites is one for the pharmaceutical industry. No veterinary medicine is authorised unless it satisfies the statutory criteria of safety, quality and efficacy.

Whilst the administration of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products is prohibited by the Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) Regulations 1997, the situation is different for non-medicinal substances such as talc, formic or lactic acid. The regulations prohibit the administration of such products only where, if transmitted to an animal product, they would be likely to be harmful to human health. These regulations are implemented primarily through residues surveillance programmes and it is likely that, only where residues of an unauthorised substance are detected, would further action be taken in relation to the use of that substance. In such circumstances the Government would take expert advice on the human health implications and any relevant information on the implications for bee welfare and the industry in general before considering further action.