Proceedings of the Royal Society on Neonicotinoids

May 29, 2014

Editor’s Note: The complete article, “A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators” published by The Proceedings of the Roay Academy B is available here. Below are excepts.

There is clear evidence of the great value of neonicotinoids in agriculture as well as the importance of the ecosystem services provided to agriculture by managed and wild pollinators.
Different stakeholders will quite naturally differ in the weightings they attach to the variety of objectives affected by insecticide use, and there is no unique answer to the question of how best to regulate neonicotinoids, an issue that inevitably has both economic and political dimensions. But economic and political arguments need to be consistent with the natural science evidence base, even though the latter will always be less complete than desirable.
Neonicotinoids are efficient plant protection compounds and if their use is restricted farmers may switch to other pest-management strategies (for example, different insecticides applied in different ways or non-chemical control measures) that may have effects on pollinator populations that could overall be more or less damaging than neonicotinoids. Alternatively, they may choose not to grow the crops concerned, which will reduce exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids but also reduce the total flowers available to pollinators

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