CPA response to report in Nature Communications on neonicotinoids and bees
This study confirms the long term decline of wild bee populations and indicates a correlation between oilseed rape and declines in some wild bee populations both in the eight years prior to, and during the use of some neonicotinoids.

It’s another important piece of work that contributes to our better understanding of the relationship between neonicotinoids and bees – but it does not show, as some are suggesting, that neonics are causing widespread declines in pollinator populations.

As the authors note, the decline of wild bee populations is known to be linked to a range of issues including habitat loss, climate change, intensive farming and the impact of what the UNDP describes as the most serious threat – the Varroa destructor mite – all of which have intensified during the 18 years covered by the data. There is still no evidence to suggest that restricting neonicotinoids helps bee populations, but it certainly harms farming and food production. 

Banning the use of neonicotinoids without addressing the other factors of bee decline in our view has not only damaged the ability of farmers to produce a healthy, sustainable crop, but will do very little to improve the viability of bee populations. Instead, we need to focus on how farming as a whole can continue to improve its environmental record, through integrated approaches to pest management that include responsible and judicious use of pesticides, and creating a farmed environment that is more conducive to biodiversity – something the vast majority of UK farmers are already working hard towards

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Adam Speed
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