I first wrote about the ICPBR group some time ago, since when my knowledge of this issue has increased substantially. Here's how industry have influenced guidelines for regulatory tests for pesticides on honey bees.
You'll see that the ICPBR Bee Protection Group within the EPPO, are very influential in setting standards for regulatory tests that must be conducted on honey bees.
From the EPPO (European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization) website, the following paragraph describes this role, and discusses a meeting to review the standards:
This has been covered elsewhere on this website, but a list of attendees can be found here.
You'll note, the attendees – a list of which can be found in the document pages, includes:
“Over the last 20 years we have helped chemical companies across the globe prepare robust submissions, minimise costs and lobby authorities. We’re confident we can do the same for you”.
A recent report by The European Environment Agency has produced an extremely important report: Late Lessons Early Warnings: science, precaution, innovation in which Bees are considered. Authors, Maxim and Van Der Sluijis provide further information about the ICPBR Bee Protection Group members, detailed in the margin right.
In other words, it really seems like a case of the fox guarding the chicken coup!
The fact that our civil servants have not:
It is even more worrying given that they also use tax payer's money to fund reports that mislead the public and ministers, as has been shown in their treatment of the Girolami guttation study, in comparison with a flawed Swiss government study. They advise DEFRA, who continually have reassured the public that we have "a robust system for testing pesticides".
Perhaps, in the UK we suffer from the same behaviour from our regulatory officials as they have experienced in France, which Philippe de Villiers, candidate to the French Presidency, French deputy and later European deputy calls:
- The neonicotinoids issue is not just about
honey bees. We should also be concerned about other non-target
species, such as wild bees and butterflies, and many other unsung hereos
of our eco-system. Read more.
- Would it be enough to restrict the use of neonicotinoids to non-flowering crops? I don't think so - here's why.
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(Helen Thompson of Fera) behind controversial study joins pesticide firm!
Quotes regarding the ICPBR:
"A closer look at the functioning of ICPBR shows that their 10th symposium in Bucharest, in 2008, has been sponsored by several chemical companies among which BASF, Bayer
Cropscience, Dow Agrosciences, Dupont and Syngenta.
Among the participants in this symposium, 43% were representing private companies, 24% governmental agencies (like AFSSA), 21% were representing research structures and only 9% were beekeepers"
"Looking closer at the composition of that group having proposed the schemes of Alix et al, 2009a,b, one can find that, among the 9 authors:
• 3 are representing pesticide producing companies (Bayer, Dow Chemicals and
• 3 are members of the previous AFSSA (French Food Safety Agency); among the three, Sophie Duchard had worked for the pesticide producing company BASF before
working for AFSSA, and Anne Alix had worked for the chemical company Novartis before being employed by AFSSA; currently, she left AFSSA for working for Dow
• 1 is member of the Central Science Laboratory, which is a governmental structure in UK and has already published together with persons from Bayer,
• 1 is member of a private consultancy company,
• only 1 is a university researcher.
This composition is largely misbalanced between members representing governmental structures or private interests, and scientists working in the public research. Furthermore, it is
astonishing that pesticide producers are largely represented, whereas beekeepers are not."
"This is not an isolated example. We could also refer to the similar
case of the recent proposal for a brood test made by the Bee Brood
Working Group of the ICPBR. This ICPBR Bee Brood working group is made of:
• 2 representatives of the industry (BASF and Bayer)
• 2 representatives of official national agencies dealing with pesticides: AFSSA (France), and CSL / Fera (UK, National Bee Unit, The Food and Environment Research Agency)
• 1 representative of a federal research institute, which is also a higher federal authority (Julius Kühn Institute - Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants, Germany)
• 1 representative of a company providing pesticides risk assessment services to companies.
• No academic scientist, no beekeeper, in this working group.
Furthermore, during the process of revision of the EPPO standards... beekeepers represented by the European Beekeeping Coordination have repeatedly made comments to the draft proposals. These proposals were never taken into account."