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Neonicotinoids and the evidence


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Since the publication of this summary of neonicotinoid research important new studies have been published. The authors consider the latest work with reference to the original paper.

Neonicotinoids and the evidence

 

"Much new research has been published on the topic (we review over 80 studies here) including the largest replicated field study to date. Despite the relatively short time since the restatement was published we provide here an update in the same format. We do this (i) because of the significant advances in the science; (ii) because of the continuing need for policy neutral evidence summaries in this highly contested area, especially in the run up to the review of the EU restrictions; and (iii) in response to a request to do so by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser."

 

"We also raise an issue here that arises from our original study but is not directly relevant to the evidence base on the effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators. In introducing the subject we wrote ‘Neonicotinoid insecticides are a highly effective tool to reduce crop yield losses due to insect pests’, and in the restatement itself listed a small number of papers in the scientific literature to support this statement. It has been pointed out that some of these papers were funded by industry and that there are other studies that have recorded no benefits of neonicotinoid use..."

 

Godfray HCJ, Blacquiere T, Field LM, Hails RS, Potts SG, Raine NE, Vanbergen AJ, McLean AR., (2015). A restatement of recent advances in the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators. Proc. R. Soc. B 82:20151821. A restatement of recent advances in the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences

NicotinoidReviewII2015.pdf

NicotinoidReviewII2015.pdf

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I thought the most challenging point they made, besides the comments on efficacy, was this;

 

"It is an interesting topic for debate whether industry would benefit in the long run from placing more of its data in the public domain as well as putting in place measures to increase public confidence in studies they fund themselves."

 

That has implications that go beyond this sector.

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Reminds me of the time I was in Mitre10. A lady in front of me wanted a safe weedkiller and severely chastised the assistant for recommending Roundup because it didn't degrade in the soil.

 

I then asked him for some Roundup because I needed to spray around my hives. He was very confused.

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Whose fault is that?

 

That is a long list; the dropping of exam standards, loss of unbiased journalism - replaced by tabloid, or worse, sensationalist journalism, increasing gap of attainment in education between girls and boys and socio-economic groups, a seeming lack of curiosity and general knowledge - replaced by narcissism, and on and on.

 

However using my above examples I've heard that Bayer uses the scientists that work on their pesticides as their media relations people regarding pesticides, not smart. Additionally now that Monsanto is developing RNA based pest control their plan is to rush approval through rather than explain the risks and rewards to the public - seemingly not learning their lesson from GM crops.

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using my above examples I've heard...

If you're a member of the twitterati follow @BayerBeeCare. It's not run by the whitecoats. As for Beelogic's work Jerry Hayes is a very well respected beekeeper always with integrity in the US and many years of public service. He is fighting an uphill battle to change Monsanto's image;

Tagging Along with Jerry Hayes and the Bees | Beyond the Rows

SolutionLab Creates "Light Bulb" Moments Around Food | Justmeans

It's worth keeping an ear closer to the source, your apocryphal messages just might be creating the 'image problem' you're talking about ;) .

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Dave and Grant, you make fair points, but I tend to lean towards Jezza on this topic. I've been involved with the companies you mention (and other similar ones) for many years, including both at a sales and technical level. One of my strong views is that much of the misunderstanding in the pesticide industry is from their own reluctance to engage with the public (globally) over many years. Yes many of these products have little real risk to consumers or the environment (incl bees) but there have been issues in the past. The defensive and sometimes secretive approach taking by these multinationals has landed them in the pickLe in which they now find themselves :D

 

I'm not particularly anti or pro these companies and their Products, but I find it very interesting watching how the likes of the current neonic situation is unfolding. Including dodgy science, rebuttal by those with a vested interest, claims of no positive reason for using the products followed by evidence they are essential for agriculture, through to impacts on other insects and vertebrates and revelations that non lethal impacts on insects could be hugely important. If I'm struggling with all this as a trained scientist, what chance the layman???

 

Regards another post, I had some "off record" discussion with a reputable scientist here in NZ some years ago regards soil degradation of glyphosate (a.i. Contained in roundup and similar herbicides). They confirmed soil half life to be far longer than I had been lead to believe and this was one of the first pieces of information that had me questioning what I had been taught.

 

I should add that I have been privileged to visit many of these companies at their home base in USA of Europe and have been presented with a wide range of presentations on strategy, technical advancement and sales. You'll appreciate that like all companies these ones exist to supply products to provide solutions to issues faced by their customers. I've met some great people who definitely have their heart in the right place. But ultimately they exist to make a profit for their shareholders.

 

Food for thought.

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