38 degrees call on eBay UK to ban pesticides that kill bees

By Dan Wilson March 26, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Campaigning organization 38 degrees has called on eBay UK to ban specific pesticides that are harmful to bees. Such products were banned last year by the EU and eBay in the UK, and across Europe has already banned such products for sale.

So why has 38 degrees got a bee in their bonnet about eBay? Well, they are worried that unwitting British buyers will buy the pesticides in question from sellers in the US. There the chemicals are not banned.

The email to 38 degrees members reads: “eBay sell shoes, blenders, headphones, handbags, t-shirts – and right now, they also sell illegal pesticides which kill bees.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members worked with a coalition of other organisations to get these pesticides banned in Europe. But eBay UK haven’t caught up.

Any unwitting gardener in the UK can buy them easily from sellers in America – all it takes is a few clicks. And there’s no mention of the fact that they’re illegal to use in Europe!”

I have had a quick look and the illegal pesticides are not numerous. And in any case, how many British gardeners are honestly going to buy pesticides from overseas anyway? At tops, only a handful. So 38 degrees’s fervour does seem to be rather misplaced. But it’s the favoured tool of slacktivists and many won’t examine the case closely and just fire off an email.

eBay have commented on the story: “eBay enforces the EU Commission’s ban of pesticides containing Neonicotinoids in order to protect bees in the EU. Sellers are legally not allowed to offer such pesticides on and we have implemented measures accordingly. We proactively search for these products using a sophisticated system based on rules, and also take down items reported by our users who share our commitment to keeping eBay safe. We continually review our processes and procedures and will remove the small number of listings of concern identified.”

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    What a Buzz!

    SORRY someone had to

  • 4 years ago

    It has been often said that if we lose the Bees that mankind will be extinct in 4 years. No doubt somebody, probably Cambridge_Blue will dispute this. But a very large proportion of what we eat relies on the Bee to pollinate it.

    I understand that in China there is a province where they have lost the Bees where to pollinate the fruit trees they have to climb the trees with small paint brushes to pollinate the flowers. Those who know me will know that I am certainly not built to go climbing up fruit trees. So as the Bees do the job so much better than I ever could do might I call upon those like northumbrian to take the threat to our Bee population seriously.

    • 4 years ago

      Nurse! He is off on one again. No one said that bees weren’t vital.

      A bad pun killed no bees neither.

      All we are saying is give bees a chance!

    • Alex
      4 years ago

      I’m all for helping busy bees but someone seem to have a “Bee in their bonnet”!!

    • 4 years ago

      Maybe its down to where you live and the sort of person you are. I live in a small village in the middle of deepest darkest Cornwall. I think that the long term future of the Bee Population is important.

      But if you live on the 12th floor of a tower block of flats in a City Centre somewhere then you may very well not care one fig for the Bee Population.

      The trouble is that we often have Townies making statements about Country Matters. They often think that they know something but in reality they are more often than not totally wrong. But because there are more Townies than there are Countrymen the Townies win because they out shout the countrymen. But it does not make them right. We only have to look at the disaster in the Somerset Levels this winter. The so call Environment Agency is controlled by Townies, most are such as Superannuated ex Politicians and they know little and care less about the countryside and its problems. So the decisions they make are a total disaster.

  • Tony C
    4 years ago

    I’m a 38 degrees supporter and I always read into as much of the case as possible, so, for me at least, the moniker of ‘slacktivist’ could be taken as offensive. However I appreciate that not all people who click to sign a petition are as meticulous as I am….

    • 4 years ago

      I do mean the term slacktivist to be derogatory. And in this case I think 38 Degrees, an organization I see merit in, may just be making noise. For the sake of making noise.

      The EU banned the pesticides in question, eBay banned them too. That some can slip through from the US. Shrug. Not many I venture.

      A misapplied , misdirected and misleading bit of work. IMHO. 38 Degrees diminish themselves with this one.

    • 4 years ago

      I have 2 x Apple Trees in my garden(as well as a Black Cherry and some fruit bushes). It is still a bit early for the blossom but in a few weeks I hope that the 2 trees will be covered in blossom and the Bees will be very busy pollinating it. But our Bee population is in very great danger. This winter has killed a lot of hives especially in Somerset where many were washed away.

      As a matter of interest in the News a couple of weeks ago there was a bit about a French Wine Grower who had been ordered on pain of large fines to use a very dangerous chemical on his vines. The chemical is known to kill Bees. He had refused but was being threatened by the French Authorities.

      So not very clever critisism of me or indeed 38 Degrees is only likely to give strength to those who do not really care if our Bees survive or not.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      to bee or not to Bee that is the question.

      SORRY! just had to

    • Tony C
      4 years ago

      Interestingly, 38 Degrees have relaunched their campaign because they have seen that the sellers have relisted after the customary couple of days….and they have blamed eBay for the listings.

      I have written to 38 Degrees suggesting that this time they may be wrong, and that they are actually spoiling their cred. I now believe, like you, Dan, that this second wave of protest is simply to make noise. Here is the text of my letter:


      I am a long-time 38 Degrees supporter. But this time you are going too far.

      You are making it look as if eBay have ‘allowed’ these pesticides back on again. That’s not usually the case; in cases of relisting of illegal items, it’s usually seller misbehaviour and as soon as you tell eBay, they will again remove these items for you.

      Much as I don’t like eBay, there is no need to blame eBay this time.

      All you are doing is spoiling 38 Degrees’ credibility by taking this militant-looking action.

      All you are doing is preying on the minds of ill-informed people, some of whom are ‘slacktivists’, and blacking the already tarnished name of eBay even more.

      This has gone far enough. You should publish another statement retracting your blame of eBay, while still asking people to write to request takedown of the offending items.

      Be careful that you do not get like mainstream political parties and get too big for your boots.

      That way lies the Dark Side.

      Best regards
      Tony ”

      I await their reply. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • 4 years ago

      I must say I sent a similar email, asking for a bit more sense.

      I haven’t received a reply to that. Or to my press enquiry asking for clarification of some of their statements.

      Bit shit.

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    it could be 38ths theme tune

    oh what a glorious thing it is to be!
    a healthy grown up busy busy bee

  • Mark
    4 years ago

    I support the ’38 degrees’ position. It seems odd that you can ship to the EU (without any warnings or restrictions) items that are illegal to use there. There are a whole lot of things I am not allowed to sell on ebay – and many countries I am not allowed to ship to. We know it is possible to do something about this, if ebay cared enough (or rather ‘if we made them care enough’). Come on ebay, don’t hold back on this one!

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      blimey get real,
      there are not container ships full of this stuff being imported,

    • Mark
      4 years ago

      Then it should be no hardship for ebay to stop the trade to the EU via their marketplace.

  • 4 years ago

    There may not be Container Ships full of this stuff being imported. The trouble is with much of this sort of stuff we just do not know how much is being imported. As an example there are very strict rules on fire-arms being imported into the UK. The trouble is its only the Legitimate imports that are monitored and controlled. The illegal imports at best there are only estimates,. So Drug Gangs and their arsenals of weapons are not controlled. Some turns up and is siezed often after crimes but probably the bulk is hidden away somewhere ready to be used at some time in the future.

    In regard to chemicals. We are rapidly approaching that time of year when across the county gardeners and others start to apply all sorts of things to the plants in their gardens, allotments, small holdings, and Farms. some is very nasty and can destroy such as the very important Bee populations.

    We really need effective controls to stop it being imported into the country and once in the country being used. A shrug really is not good enough. Or we could find that the Fruit Trees blossom is not pollinated and we have no crops of Apples, Pears, Cherries etc.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Are you smoking something or have you been at those mushrooms down there in deepest Cornwall again?
      God Bless ‘the container’ for it revolutionised international trade.
      pip pip

    • 4 years ago

      Its far more likely that you are the one smoking something. I have lung problems. Last week I saw the Specialist at the local Hospital. I am a life long Non Smoker(but that has not stopped me developing lung problems). So I can guarantee that I have not smoked anything ever. Neither do I take anything in any other form except what has been prescribed and a few vitamins. However I cannot say the same for Cambridge_Blue who seems from the quality, or lack of it, from so many of his posting to be in a perpetual high from something nasty.

  • 4 years ago

    Latest 38 degrees email received today:

    Fantastic news. The bee-killer pesticides are off eBay – AGAIN! [1]

    62,827 emails (!) from 38 Degrees members pushed eBay into taking action. They even told the 38 Degrees office that they had people in “making manual checks over the weekend” – which for a huge corporation based on fancy technology is extraordinary.

    Here’s a statement from eBay:

    “We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better, but no system is perfect. We will immediately take action against items reported to us. It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so we will educate sellers about the rules too.

    Thank you for your passion.”

    Last week it looked as though eBay had acted. 48 hours later the pesticides were back up on their site. [2] But this time, it looks like eBay have actually done the work and fixed the problem.

    That’s not to say the banned pesticides will never go up for sale again. But eBay sound serious about fixing their systems – and now, eBay know that 38 Degrees members are watching.

    So, some good news. Until next time, eBay!

    Thanks for everything you do,

    Susannah, Maddy, Robin and the 38 Degrees team

    PS: The charity Buglife, who first found the illegal pesticides on eBay, are now talking to eBay about their pesticide policies. Vanessa Amaral Rogers from Buglife started the original petition to eBay on Campaigns by You, a platform which lets anyone start their own campaign. [3] That’s how 38 Degrees members first got involved. Here’s what Vanessa has to say:

    “After fantastic work from over 60,000 38 Degrees members, Buglife are extremely happy to report that neonicotinoid pesticides are no longer up for sale on eBay. We will be keeping a close eye on eBay to see whether they keep their promise and don’t allow the sale of these illegal bee-killing pesticides in the future – bees can breathe a sigh of relief for now.”

    Do you know of another corporate giant behaving badly? Is there something else you’d like to change? Click here to start your own campaign on Campaigns by You in minutes:

    PPS: To help keep an eye on eBay, do the odd advanced search for the banned chemicals ‘imidacloprid’ and ‘thiamothoxam’ on, and check the box to search within ‘title and description’. If anything comes up, report it. eBay have said they’ll listen – so let’s test them!

    [1] 38 Degrees blog: eBay: killing our bees:
    More information about the pesticides here:
    Buglife: Pesticides poisoning our bees:
    [2] 38 Degrees blog: eBay: no longer killing our bees:
    38 Degrees blog: eBay: killing our bees AGAIN:
    [3] Campaigns by You: Get eBay to remove illegal toxic chemicals from their website:

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    thats it then the world is saved

  • Cambridge_BLue
    4 years ago

    There is no point arguing with ideologues or ‘clicktivists’ like this I’m afraid.
    38 degrees is a perfect expression of all that pent up ‘concern’ about one issue politics that exists in a complete moral and economic vacuum.
    Common sense, logic and pragmatism count for nothing against the online mob.
    Back to organic allotments all of you!

    • 4 years ago

      In an earlier posting I said about those living on the 12th floor or some Tower Block in some City Centre. Obviously by Cambridge_Blues comments he does live on such a 12th Floor. With derelict 1960’s buildings all around to match his derelict or non existent IQ.

      The fact is that we need the Bees. Rather than making snide and ignorant comments everybody including clowns like Cambridge_Blue should accept that relatively simple measures and a bit or respect and the Bees are quite capable of looking after themselves. Just occasionally they need our help to produce the drugs necessary to cure Bee Diseases or Parasites. But apart from that they really do not need much. But we have to respect them and accept that a little help can be necessary.

      Then we shall have healthy Bee Colonies and Honey and the Bees will continue to pollinate the blossoms on so many Fruit Trees and Bushes.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Unlike you I do not subscribe to the views of any online mob nor to the view that serious politics can be treated like a pick and mix in the local sweet shop.
      This was a complete non issue as Dan correctly identified and did not need any action from eBay given the actual perceived ‘risk’ from a few people using this stuff.
      The volume users like farmers are already banned from using it which is what really matters.
      But then facts and evidence are simply an irrelevance to you hence yet another sad little post.
      By the way what is your mensa test score my dear village idiot?
      God Bless ‘the stupid’.
      pip pip

    • 4 years ago

      As I said before about people living on the 12th Floor of some rundown 1960;s tower block. They will hold the same view as Cambridge_Blue. They will ignore the problems of the Bee population. While those of us who live in the countryside and know and understand how things work will know that without the Bee the Human Race really does have problems.

      Cambridge_Blue says that the Farmers are banned from using the various chemicals. This is certainly true. But we are all Banned from Murdering or Raping but it does not stop it happening. The fact is that every year stuff is used that should not be.

      Some Farmers and indeed Gardeners may very well have stocks of stuff that was legal a few years ago and then banned still in their barns or sheds. Or perhaps they like this stuff because its always worked for them so even though its banned in the UK and the EU perhaps they can still get it in the USA or where ever including ebay so they place an order and it gets through.

      But even Legal Chemicals have problems. Farmers are supposed to notify Bee Keepers if they are going to spray their fields. They may know some of the local Bee Keepers but Hives move around the countryside. Some Bee Keepers have contracts from such as Orchard Owners to move hives into the Orchard when the trees are in blossom. The Farmer down the road is going to spray, notifies his local Bee Keepers who then keep their bees in. But they do not notify the visiting Bee Keepers and their bees get a dose of the chemicals. The chemicals do not kill the bees but they do interfere with the bees guidance system. So instead of being able to find their way back to the hive they get lost in the countryside and eventually die.

      Now to Cambridge_Blue the fate of the Human Race is a non issue. To me the long term future of the human race and its inter relationship with the bee is vitally important. When a Bee comes into my house I will carefully shepherd it out of the window and as it flies off I will say a cheery Goodbye. No doubt Cambridge_Blue on the other hand picks up a Newspaper, rolls it up and squashes the bee.

    • 4 years ago

      Cambridge_Blue says ‘God Bless the Stupid’. This is because he so closely relates to them as can be seen clearly is so many of his posts.

    • 4 years ago

      I would be very interested in just how much experience of serious politics Cambridge_Blue actually has. For example I joined a Political Party in 1964 when I was 14 years old. Before I was 15 years old I was Chairman of a Branch. I have been a Parliamentary Candidate and a County Council, District Council and Parish Council Candidate. I have been an Elected Member of the Parties National Executive etc.

      I do not know if Cambridge_Blue has ever read a Parties Manifesto. This is the document put out by a Political Party at a General Election and is the details of the Policies(Serious Politics that Cambridge_Blue talks about) that it is fighting the Election. When I was on the National Executive one of our responsibilities was in regard to reviewing our Manifesto.

      So while he talks while sitting on his High Horse I have been there and done that.

  • 4 years ago

    I think it’s fair to say this thread is off topic.

    Please respect other readers by posting useful, businesslike comments.


    Dan Wilson

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