A major new study of the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides has been published in Science.
The Guardian has a good summary of the results here. Because this is the largest field trial so far, it is difficult for the pesticide manufacturers to deny the findings, but they try.
The National Farmers’ Union is still keen on neonics, arguing that they improve crop yields, particularly OSR. As with so many pro-neonic arguments, this isn’t evidence based: Oil Seed Rape yields have been unaffected by the last 2 years’ moratorium on neonics – partly I suspect because the poisons are extremely long lived in soil, so were re-expressed in later crops; and perhaps because the pests’ predators have made a comeback now they too are no longer being hammered by blanket use of poisons which were originally only approved for use as spot treatments when pest outbreaks were spotted (“integrated crop management”).
Interestingly, the results in Germany didn’t match those in Britain and Hungary. Drilling down into the data, it is noted that German bees forage far less on OSR, have more varied forage, and the starting colonies were stronger and healthier.
Edit: Following the release of this data, Friends of the Earth have organised a petition asking the UK government to ban neonics entirely. Sign it here.
Edit: Neonic manufacturers Syngenta and Bayer have been trying to discredit the study, confuse the issue, and undermine the credibility of the respected scientist authors – more on this here.