Three years of banning neonicotinoid insecticides based on sub-lethal effects: Can we expect to see effects on bees?

Tjeerd Blacquière*, Sjef van der Steen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 2013 EU ban of three neonicotinoids used in seed coating of pollinator attractive crops was put in place because of concern about declining wild pollinator populations and numbers of honeybee colonies. It was also concluded that there is an urgent need for good field data to fill knowledge gaps. In the meantime such data have been generated. Based on recent literature we question the existence of recent pollinator declines and their possible link with the use of neonicotinoids. Because of temporal non-coincidence we conclude that declines of wild pollinators and of honeybees are not likely caused by neonicotinoids. Even if bee decline does occur and if there is a causal relationship with the use of neonicotinoids, we argue that it is not possible on such short term to evaluate the effects of the 2013 ban. In order to supply future debate with realistic (field) data and to discourage extrapolating the effects of studies using overdoses that are not of environmental relevance, we propose - in addition to field studies performed by the chemical industry - to use the 'semi-field worst case' treated artificial diet studies approach to free flying colonies in the field. This kind of study may provide realistic estimates for risk and be useful to study realistic interactions with non-pesticide stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1299-1304
JournalPest Management Science
Volume73
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Exposure and dose
  • Honey bees
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Pesticide ban
  • Pollinator declines

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