The Impact of Pesticides on Bee Health – London January 2014

The link below will direct you to the programme for the above meeting, which includes brief synopses of the speaker’s presentations. This programme has been edited to highlight those presentations which demonstrate the harm of mainly neonicotinoids to bees (in yellow) and those which show no impact (in blue). The research that shows “evidence of an impact” is in the majority, whilst the evidence against harm comes primarily from pesticide companies or research teams who rely on funding from pesticide companies.

The Impact of Pesticides on Bee Health

22 – 24 January 2014 at Charles Darwin House, London, UK

Joint meeting of the British Ecological Society, Biochemical Society and the Society for Experimental Biology

The impact of pesticides on bee health jan 2014 – Programme

You can see a recording of the discussion session at the meeting website

UK Government Appears to Endorse Latest EFSA Guidelines on Pesticides

In a recent communication to Small Blue Marble Lord de Mauley has confirmed that the UK Government have no plans to develop their own pesticide testing regime, but will instead adopt the one proposed by the European Food Safety Agency. This is likely to result in a permanent ban on the use of neo-nicotinoids.

The latest EFSA Guidelines on pesticide testing can be downloaded here

UK Government Releases Ministerial Advice to Farmers on neo-nicotinoid Alternatives Under FoI

Click here to see report

The UK government advice is, as expected, to revert to synthetic pyrethroids for the duration. Contrary to assurances given that this advice will include a reminder for all farmers to notify local beekeeping association spray liaison officers ahead of spraying, this has not been included.

So far DEFRA have not made any statement about what they intend to do do during the moratorium – will they develop a new protocol for toxicity/risk assessment? Will they monitor sub-lethal effects of historical contamination?

The 2013 International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health, and Policy

Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research hosted the 2nd International Conference on Pollinator Biology Health and Policy from August 14-17, 2013.

The goal of the conference was to highlight the diversity of issues facing pollinators, and to bring together multiple interest groups to engage in a dialog about the best approaches to mitigating these issues and supporting conservation. The conference attracted over 230 people from 15 different countries. Speakers and registrants included representatives from academic and government research groups, government policy organizations, agricultural industries, beekeeper groups, non-profit organizations, and private citizens. Selected materials from the conference are below, including the program and abstract booklet, and the powerpoint presentations of speakers in the symposium on Evolving Policies on Pollinator Risk Assessment and Conservation.

Papers can be downloaded from or from the research page of this website

Neonicotinoids put Pollinator Services at Risk

Utrecht, 07 June 2013

Scientists urge transition to pollinator-friendly agriculture

Present scale of use of neonicotinoid pesticides put pollinator services at risk


Honeybee disorders and high colony losses have become global phenomena. An international team of scientist led by Utrecht University synthesized recent findings on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees. Scientists conclude in the scientific journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability that owing to neonicotinoids large-scale prophylactic use in agriculture, their high persistence in soil and water, and their uptake by plants and trans-location to flowers, neonicotinoids put pollinator services at risk.

Rapidly emerging scientific insights
One third of the world food production and 87.5% of all flowering plants on Earth critically depend on pollinators.
To protect honeybees, the European Commission decided on 24 May 2013 to ban the use of the three most toxic neonicotinoids in crops attractive to bees.

Over the past two years more than 150 new scientific studies on the effects of neonicotinoids on bees have been published.
An international team of six European scientists led by Dr. Jeroen van der Sluijs from Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, for the first time made a comprehensive synthesis of these new insights. The study appeared today in the leading journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Last month, the same group discovered that the large scale pollution of surface waters in Europe with imidacloprid has led to a dramatic decline (on average a loss of 70%) in insect-richness in and around the polluted surface waters and wetlands.

A copy of this paper can be downloaded from the Research Page

Bayer and the European Environment Agency in Conflict Over Report

The European Environment Agency have this month published a report ‘Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation’ (EEA, 2013) available at: which comprehensively assesses the historical conflict between commercial companies and protection of the environment and makes a case for the stronger use of the precautionary principle. After publication Bayer reacted angrily in an illuminating dialogue between Dr Richard Schmuck, Head of Department of Environmental Safety of Bayer CropScience and the authors of the chapter on ‘Seed-dressing systemic insecticides and honeybees’, Laura Maxim and Jeroen van der Sluijs, which you can read here; Late lessons from early warnings II – Bee decline web debate . The dialogue goes much further than scientific disagreements, and exposes the way large companies like Bayer exert disproportionate influence through participation in quasi official bodies such as the ICPPR – The International Commission for Plant-Pollinator Relationships, and their funding of, and influence over, ostensibly independent research.

Wildlife Trusts Call for Moratorium on use of Neo-nicotinoids

According to the Wildlife Trust’s latest policy paper “There is a growing body of evidence that shows that neonicotinoids have a detrimental effect at sub-lethal doses on insect pollinators. For this reason, The Wildlife Trusts believe that until it can be categorically proven that neonicotinoids are not adversely impacting pollinator populations, and by extension ecosystem health, Government should adopt the precautionary principle and place a moratorium on their use on all outdoor crops.”

Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

Small Blue Marble is pleased to announce the publication of the paper,

J Environ Analytic Toxicol 2012, S4-006, doi: 10.4172/2161-0525.S4-006

Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence by M Antoniou, MEM Habib, CV Howard, RC Jennings, C Leifert, RO Nodari, CJ Robinson and J Fagan

the paper is now officially published. It is available at:

The publication of this paper was financially supported by Small Blue Marble.

UK Parliament Investigates the Effects of Neo-Nicotinoids

This inquiry will examine the effect of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators. In particular, the Committee will consider Defra’s policy and regulations on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the light of the available evidence on the impact of such pesticides on pollinators.

The Committee has launched a new inquiry into the impact of insecticides on bees and other insects.

On 18 September, Defra published an analysis of the results of its review of research done earlier in the year on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees. It concluded that the studies did not justify changing existing regulations, but also that it was undertaking further research itself and would produce a new risk assessment for bees by the end of 2012.

The Committee will examine the basis on which Defra decided not to take action at this stage and whether such a course is justified by the available evidence. Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, wrote to The Guardian last week announcing aspects that the Committee inquiry would examine:

  • The use (or abuse) of evidence in this particular case, for setting policy and regulations on pesticides.
  • The application of real-world – ‘field’ – data. What monitoring there is of actual – rather than recommended – levels of pesticide usage, and the extent to which that influences policy on pesticides.
  • Any potential impacts of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides on human health.
  • What alternative pest-control measures should be used, such as natural predators and plant breeding for insect-resistance, in a bid to make UK farming more insect- and bee-friendly.

The Chair of the Committee wrote:

“We will be announcing details of the inquiry soon. In the meantime, Defra ministers may want to start doing their homework on pesticide policy and biodiversity, because we will be calling them before Parliament to answer questions on these issues. In particular, we will be scrutinising the evidence behind the Government’s decision not to revise pesticide regulations or follow other European countries in temporarily suspending the use of insecticides linked to bee decline.”

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by Friday 2nd November, although later submissions may be accepted. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.


Media Information: Nick Davies   020 7219 3297   / 07917488141