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A valuable addition to the debate on neonicotinoid use.

Posted by clementkent on 02 May 2013 at 19:20 GMT

Those of us who have focused on neonicotinoid effects on bees are reminded by this report, and by the recent summary of impacts on North American birds (, that these pesticides can have ecosystem-wide impacts. More studies like this one need to be published to inform the debate on neonicotinoid use.

One particularly interesting point is the authors' recommendation of a limit of 1ng/L for imidacloprid levels in water. Standards in other countries are higher than the upper Dutch limit of 200ng/L, which this study shows is associated with much reduced invertebrate abundance. The 2007 Canadian limit of 230 ng/L was "supported" by surveys in the province of Ontario showing no detectable levels of imidacloprid in fresh water systems - but these surveys used methods with detection limits of 1000ng/L to 4000ng/L (Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life). Clearly national and local water monitoring agencies will need to invest in better analytical techniques to test and replicate the authors' findings.

No competing interests declared.

RE: A valuable addition to the debate on neonicotinoid use.

JeroenVanDerSluijs replied to clementkent on 04 May 2013 at 10:10 GMT

Thank you for your context-providing comment.

For the wider context of the science-policy debates on neonicotinoïds, here is the press release by the European Commission on their plans for a temporary partial ban on three neonicotinoïds:

Bees and Pesticides: Commission to proceed with plan to better protect bees

The preliminary full text of that proposal, on which the EU Member States voted on 29 April 2013, is available here:

Note that the final text has not yet been released by the European Committee, so it may differ from this version.

Of particular interest is the reaction by the European Environment Agency:
Neonicotinoïd pesticides are a huge risk – so ban is welcome, says EEA

Recent coverage of the debate by high quality news media includes:

Wired: Pesticide Suspected in Bee Die-Offs Could Also Kill Birds

The Guardian:
Bees and the European neonicotinoïds pesticide ban: Q&A

Bee-harming pesticides banned in Europe

Bee protection: US in spotlight as EU bans pesticides

No competing interests declared.