Neonicotinoid pesticides are a key factor in honeybee decline, according to a study to be published in the Journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
Undertaking a full analysis of all the available literature (800 peer reviewed reports) the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides — a group of global, independent scientists — has found that there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action.
The analysis, called the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA), finds that neonicotinoids pose a serious risk of harm to honeybees and other pollinators such as butterflies and to a wide range of other invertebrates such as earthworms and vertebrates such as birds.
“The evidence is very clear,” says Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the National Centre for Scientific Research in France, a lead author of the WIA. “We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT. Far from protecting food production the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem.”
The authors suggest that regulatory agencies apply more precautionary principles and further tighten regulations on neonicotinoids and fipronil and start planning for a global phase-out or at least a strong reduction of the global scale of use.
In April 2013 the European Union voted to impose a two-year ban on neonicotinoids. Bayer, along with other agribusiness companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF, argue the pesticides are not responsible for honeybee decline and want the European courts to overturn the ban.