University of Sussex Professor Dave Goulson has raised more than £6,000 in pledges, double his target, through crowdfunding platform Walacea to research neonicotinoid use on garden centre plants. Friends of the Earth pledged £3,000 and the HTA said it would also pledge.
Goulson said: "Through the funding so far we can sample plants from four gardening centres to test for the presence of neonics in a selection of plants. If we can raise enough we would like to test 100 different plants randomly selected from 10 centres, which will cost a total of £8,000. This will give us a really good picture of what's going on."
He added: "I think that if you are going to sell plants as 'perfect for pollinators' they shouldn't contain insecticides. I've no idea why we are behind the US - perhaps because no one previously thought to look into it in the UK."
But Hartfield said: "I don't think the work proposed will give us anything like 'a good picture of what's going on'. The work sets out to find whether or not neonicotinoids can be detected in garden centre plants. As far as I can see it is not attempting at all to answer the critical scientific question of whether or not neonicotinoids are actually responsible for any widespread decline in pollinator populations. It would be a shame if any results were just used to irresponsibly scare the plant-buying public and demonise garden centres."