A couple of interesting snippets on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website. The first is about the dangers, or not, of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The article states: ‘Neonicotinoids are a group of chemicals used as insecticides.  Studies looking at the effects of neonicotinoids on bees have been widely reported. The Government is fully aware of the importance of bees and of the economic benefits they bring as pollinators… We take any threat to bees very seriously and have kept the evidence on neonicotinoids under close and open-minded scrutiny.  We are prepared to take whatever action the evidence shows to be necessary.’

So what is the new evidence? The article refers to a number of articles published in Spring 2012 that suggest that neonicotinoids may have sub-lethal effects on bees that make it more likely to die when other factors combine. The summary of the expert consideration is given in a short document on the state of the science, which concludes that there were methodological problems with the studies undertaken. While more research is needed, the panel did not think there was any need for new regulations.

‘The studies were interesting but they either used neonicotinoids at a higher level than is currently permitted, or the studies weren’t carried out under field conditions.  The studies did not show that currently permitted uses of neonicotinoids have serious implications for the health of bee populations. Regulation needs to be based on all the science. Existing field studies on neonicotinoids found there weren’t any significant differences between hives exposed to treated crops and hives exposed to untreated crops.’

So, the research is on-going but there’s no convincing evidence yet that neonicotinoids should be banned or restricted.

Neonicotinoid insecticides and bees, Defra