U of G Researcher Weighs in on Bee/Pesticides Debate

May 27, 2014

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

A group of international scientists, including a University of Guelph professor, are calling for an evidence-based debate on whether or not the use of neonictinoid (neonic) insecticides are linked to bee deaths. Professor Nigel Raine, recently joined the University of Guelph as the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation.

The scientist panel published a paper on (May 21, 2014), discussing what is known about the insecticides in question in order to develop policy recommendations. The report outlines the pros and cons of research on the topic. According to the authors, the causes of global bee decline is likely the result of multiple factors. These include: habitat, parasites and diseases, weather conditions, agriculture intensification and the use of pesticides.

The authors offer clarity on the causes for bee decline, arguing that while pesticide exposure may be a factor, other sources like bee diseases could be equally important. A perspective which is necessary for policy makers to consider.

The article elaborates on the dose amount of insecticides on treated seeds, and the affects that neonics have on bees, bee colonies and other pollinators. Additionally, the paper says that banning or restricting use of neonics would likely not reverse bee colony decline, noting that pollinator numbers were falling before these insecticides were introduced in the 1990s.

Researchers go on to say that a ban could in fact discourage farmers from growing certain crops that pollinators need to thrive. Like most studies relating to bees/neonics, authors say more research on the topic is needed.