Grub 'n' Mushroom vs Neonicotinoids

A Community project Brighton, United Kingdom

To build a tandem bike and use it to vist and talk with farmers, scientists, food producers and MPs about neonicotinoid pesticides

Project aim

To build a tandem bike and use it to visit and talk with farmers, scientists, food producers and MPs about neonicotinoid pesticides this summer. 

About the project

Performance artists GRUB n MUSHROOM - half human half bike creators - are setting out on a TANDEM into the Sussex countryside on a quest to find out what ON EARTH is going on with FOOD, FARMING and NEONICOTINOIDS. 

The Ask

We are Ellie Liddell-Crewe and Maria Orengo - Grub n Mushroom -  two performance artists. We have been tasked to ride out on an expedition into the countryside around Brighton to connect with FARMERS, FOOD PRODUCERS and SCIENTISTS on a mission to find out what’s behind the controversy surrounding a group of unpronounceable pesticides called NEONICOTINOIDS, used extensively in UK farming.

 The aim is to find out the truth behind the claims and counter claims made about these pesticides used to produce our food, and to create a forum for collaboration and dialogue between scientists, food producers and farmers that will help people to reconnect with their local landscape and find out how the land is used to produce food.

Our vehicle of choice is a TANDEM, which we will build ourselves. To do this we need bike parts, time to make the bike, and time on the road.   Please help us to build the ultimate eco-friendly green recycled, upcycled and soon to be well cycled TANDEM to set out on our mission of communication and collaboration. We need to raise £2000.

The Background

During 2013 a huge row broke out about what’s going on in the British countryside. On one side was a group of independent environmental scientists, and on the other, the National Farmers Union, the Government and the agro-chemical industry. The cause - a group of pesticides called NEONICOTINOIDS that are used on most of the stuff grown in the UK, from wheat and oilseed rape to fruit and veg, as well as ornamental plants.

NEONICS are meant to be harmless to bees but scientists in the UK and France produced evidence that they were harming pollinators - honey bees as well as wild bees such as bumble bees – that are all essential for producing food. The EU Commission decided NEONICS posed an “unacceptable risk to bees” and introduced a two year ban which started in December 2013. The UK Government didn’t vote for the ban, saying there was insufficient evidence.

 So what are we the public supposed to make of it all?

  • Who are the scientists and who should we trust?
  • What do local farmers think, and who advises them?
  • Why are the Government not satisfied with the evidence?
  • What happens to crops and produce grown in the farms around Brighton?
  • How is local wildlife affected?

Our quest is to discover more about what’s going on in our local landscape and communicate the facts. We are cycling out in TANDEM into the Sussex countryside to seek dialogue with Sussex scientists, food producers and farmers.

The Outcomes

We will create artwork from the culmination of our findings and interactions, which will be exhibited to the public. We will also create invitations to a GREAT PUBLIC DEBATE on the subject and talk by Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex, to be held at the Brighthelm Centre on Friday September 11th.  We will gift our invitations to: Artists, scientists, food producers & retailers, farmers, MPs and as many local people as possible. 

Please help us to cycle out and find out, and to reach out to as many people as possible!

With love,  Grub N Mush

Follow us on twitter @grubnmush for updates, info, fun and thoughts. See to view our last cycling project


This project is supported by:

ONCA Centre for Arts & Ecology in Brighton. ONCA's mission is to foster and inspire a greater understanding of ecology through art and creative practice.

PaleBlueDot: an Oxfordshire based not for profit arts-science collaboration aimed at raising public awareness about a range of environmental and social concerns through exhibitions, workshops, publications and events.