The Economic Benefits of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatement: A Federal Research Plan

May 27, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following is from USDA’s May 21, 2015 “Colony Collapse Disorder and Honey Bee Health Action Plan.” The complete Action Plan is available here. USDA’s blog post, “Buzzing into Action to Support Pollinator Health through Research” is available here.

Goal: Implement new tools that will improve EPA’s ability to understand and/or measure the impacts of changes in bee health on beekeepers.

Priority: High

Duration: Short-term

Federal agencies: EPA, ERS


There are several potential approaches for estimating the value or impacts of pesticide risk on bees including estimating (1) replacement costs, (2) changes in beekeeper profits via a production function, and (3) willingness to pay to reduce risks. There are advantages and disadvantages of all approaches, including the ease by which they can be linked to risk assessment.

  1. EPA will conduct a literature review of current research on the economics of beekeeping.
  2. EPA and ERS will identify gaps in the existing research and determine the appropriate approaches to address these gaps.
  3. ERS will review existing public surveys, field studies, other data sources (e.g., seed treatment companies) concerning the use and economic effects of neonicotinoid seed treatments. If appropriate data exist, ERS will conduct analyses of the likely effects of potential regulation of seed treatments on input use, cost, productivity, and profitability of producing treated crops.
  4. EPA will explore avenues for outreach such as organizing symposia at appropriate professional meetings or hosting workshops in order to seek input from a wide array of professionals to develop appropriate tools and methodologies.

Once comments from experts have been received and assimilated, EPA will begin to determine next best steps regarding what types of valuation studies the EPA can conduct to better communicate and evaluate the potential economic risks that pesticides have on beekeepers and society.

Throughout this process, EPA will coordinate with the ERS research program to address goals and outstanding questions regarding valuation of pollination services.

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