EDM 2664 To Ban Neonicotinoids

In the UK, a further Early Day Motion has been tabled by Martin Caton MP in 2012, requesting a ban on neonicotinoids, following the publication of yet more scientific evidence (this time by Dr Jeff Pettis et al), that neonicotinoids are dangerous for bees (see links right for previous activity in this area).

Below was a letter writing campaign, used to support the EDM.  It has been left on this website for future reference.

(If you live elsewhere other than the UK, you can still use this letter and adapt it to send to your own political representatives if relevant, but note, more research has since been released, and the whole debate has moved on significantly since this particular campaign).

Dear (Political Representative)

I am writing to request that you support the EDM tabled by Martin Caton MP, requesting a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

There is overwhelming evidence that neonicotinoids make bees significantly more susceptible to nosema, a pathogenic fungi. 27. The final results of a 2 year project (2007 - 2008) by FERA were published, and indicate that 45% of the colonies had nosema – 8% of which had 2 strains. It can be found at: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/

Invertebrates (and not only bees) can also be susceptible to fungi.

Here is a summary of 3 papers:

  • Pettis et al – 2011 (1)
    - Nosema infections increased significantly in the bees from pesticide-treated hives when compared to bees from control hives.
    - Quote: “We clearly demonstrate an increase in pathogen growth within individual bees reared in colonies exposed to one of the most widely used pesticides worldwide, imidacloprid, at below levels considered harmful to bees.”
    - Quote: “In some cases, pesticide exposure to test bees could only have been indirectly from brood food from nurse bees” (suggesting highly complex indirect effects).
    - The study, “clearly demonstrates that such interactions are possible in the real world, not just in a laboratory setting.”
    - Quote: “Our results suggest that the current methods used to evaluate the potential negative effect of pesticides are inadequate. This is not the first study to note a complex and unexpected interaction between low pesticide exposure and pathogen loads.”
    - Quote: “Lastly, we believe that subtle interactions between pesticides and pathogens, such as demonstrated here, could be a major contributor to increased mortality (death) of honey bee colonies worldwide.”

  • Cedric Alaux Et Al – 2009 (2)
    - Bees that were exposed to both the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and nosema, were SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to die, than if they were exposed to the pesticide or nosema on their own. Not only that, the study demonstrated that the combined effect of imidacloprid and nosema had the potential to weaken colonies.
    - Alaux et al concluded: “By focusing either on the effects of pesticides or on parasites alone, their well-established interaction has been completely ignored despite clear evidences in IPM that entomopathogenic fungi act synergistically with sublethal doses of pesticides to kill insect pests.” (Indeed, this is something Bayer clearly refer to in their leaflet for Premise 200 SC below!)

  • Vidau et al – 2011 (3)
    - This paper looked at the effects of neonicotinoid Thiacloprid, and Fipronil (a systemic pesticide which works in a similar way to neonicotinoids) on bees.
    - The study found a “very highly significant increase” in the number of dead honeybees when they were exposed to both the insecticide, and nosema (which is common in soil).
    - The study states: “Low doses of neonicotinoids and phenylpyrazoles induce a broad range of sublethal effects such as behavioral or physiological alterations in honeybees and other beneficial arthropods”.

Finally, even Bayer admit that their insecticide imidacloprid makes pathogenic fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites, which are social insects like bees, by altering behaviour - as stated very clearly in their leaflet for Premise 200SC, which reads:

    “The termites are susceptible to diseases or fungi found in soil. A principle part of their defence mechanism is their grooming habits, which allows the termites to get rid of the fungal spores before these spores germinate and cause disease or death. Premise 200SC interferes with this natural process by lowering defence to nature’s own weaponry.”

    “Imidacloprid makes fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites. Nature assists imidacloprid in giving unsurpassed control. This control is called Premise 200SC plus Nature."

Bees also groom along with other insects - does imidacloprid have the same effect on bees?

I urge you to support the EDM – in line with the Precautionary Principle(4), and furthermore, request that you demand that the inadequacies of our pesticides regulatory system be addressed immediately.

Yours sincerely


(1)Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema – Published: Naturwissenschaften 2011 - Jeffery S. Pettis et al
(2)Interactions between Nosema microspores and a neonicotinoid weaken honeybees (Apis mellifera) – Published: Environmental Microbiology (2009) - Cédric Alaux et al
(3)Exposure to Sublethal Doses of Fipronil and Thiacloprid Highly Increases Mortality of Honeybees Previously Infected by Nosema ceranae - Published PLoS ONE (2011) - Cyril Vidau et al
(4) The precautionary principle is enshrined in Directive 91/414 which states that “Member States shall ensure that a plant protection product is not authorized unless…..it has no unacceptable influence on the environment.” “Authorizations may be reviewed at any time if there are indications that any of the requirements….are no longer satisfied.”

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