The Honeybees Are Just Fine

July 18, 2014

From: The Wall Street Journal

The green campaign against insecticides is based on fearmongering, not science.

By Richard Tren, Mr. Tren is a director of Africa Fighting Malaria.

Is a relatively new class of insecticides, known as neonicotinoids or “neonics,” harming bees and other wildlife? That’s what the International Union for the Conservation of Nature claimed in a recent press release announcing the results of a meta-study the organization conducted earlier this year. One might have expected the press release to be accompanied by the underlying scientific studies. But that wasn’t the case.

The proper way to engage in scientific debate is to publish studies so peers can confirm or refute the findings. Frustratingly, IUCN has only released one of its seven studies, preferring to conduct science by press release. This lack of transparency—together with the well-known anti-pesticide position of many of the scientists involved—raises suspicions as environmental groups lobby regulators to ban neonics in Canada and the U.S. The pesticides are already banned for two years in the European Union, and IUCN is calling for even-tighter restrictions and a global phaseout.


 But great harm will arise if fear trumps science when it comes to insecticide regulation. It takes many years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring a new insecticide to market, and there is no new, safe and effective replacement for neonics around the corner. Banning neonics simply means that farmers are forced to use older insecticides, such as pyrethroids, which are less specific and more harmful to bees and the wider environment.

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