Wednesday, 9 September 2009


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 Neonicotinoids cause bees to forage less and produce fewer offspring

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 British environmental organizations are again demand a halt to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides after a new report asserts the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid damages the health and life cycle of bees.

   Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust – says the unexplained collapse in Britain's bee population is being exacerbated by a group of widely used systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids already banned in much of the European Union.

   Buglife says the use of neonicotinoids is already restricted for use in much of Europe including France and Germany after beekeepers claimed the chemical was killing honey bees.

   The Soil Association, says while this is unlikely to explain Colony Collapse Disorder in the honey bee, it could be a key contributory factor and may well be part of the cause for widespread declines in wild bee populations.

  The Buglife report also finds the process for approving crop pesticides is inadequate for assessing risks to bees and other wildlife.

   The report was presented to Michael Jacobs, the government’s special advisor on environmental issues at a bee summit in London today (Wednesday).

   Scientific evidence in the report shows that bees eating nectar and pollen contaminated with imidacloprid (the commonest neonicotinoid) then forage less and produce fewer offspring.

    The current approvals process for pesticides assess risks to non-target species and either attempts to reduce risk or prevents use of high risk chemicals. However, Buglife says it is clear from its study the process is inadequate regarding risks to bees as it fails to properly test for a range of sub-lethal affects and potential poisoning routes that are likely to affect bee populations in the UK countryside.

   Buglife, the Soil Association, Pesticides Action Network and Bumblebee Conservation Trust are calling for the suspension of all UK approvals for products containing neonicotinoids that are used outdoors and a review of all neonicotinoid approvals.

   In addition they are demanding more comprehensive methodologies for assessing the effects pesticides on non-target invertebrates are incorporated into approval procedures.

   “Other countries have already introduced bans to prevent neonicotinoids from harming bees,” Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow says. “This is the most comprehensive review of the scientific evidence yet and it has revealed the disturbing amount damage these poisons can cause to bees.”

 The entire report, 50+ pages, can be read at

 Buglife is the first organization in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. Its aim is to halt the extinction of invertebrate species and to achieve sustainable populations of invertebrates.

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