Honey Bee Declines Have Happened Before
– So Should We Be Worried This Time?

Yes – Because The Scenarios Are Not Comparable – But Read On!

Yet another red herring about honey bee declines and neonicotinoids........

I was dismayed, having sent a letter to a political representative regarding my concerns about neonicotinoids, to receive what I think, is an erroneous counter response. 

The strange suggestion seemed to imply that because there have been previous honey bee declines in the past 200 years, that somehow this must indicate that neonicotinoids are no cause for concern. The political representative then went on to let me know they were exploring this particular issue.

I quickly let her know that I think this particular argument is erroneous.  Why?

  1. Let’s apply the same logic to humans.
    The human population of Britain has suffered plagues and epidemics over centuries, but if a significant number of the population died, we’d want to know the truth of what had happened.  If there was a hint that exposure to a new poison was to blame, we’d be looking to resolve the matter immediately.  In no way would we say “well, you know what, we’ve had diseases and problems before, so it can’t be poison”.   We recognise that this would be absolute nonsense, serving only to protect those responsible for the poisonings.  We’d want to get to the bottom of the problem this time, not simply blame past epidemics.
  2. The argument only applies to honey bees.  There is a complete disregard for what is happening out there to wild pollinators and non-target invertebrates as a whole, whilst pesticides are used over vast areas of the landscape, and in the case of neonicotinoids, they persist in soil for a long time, and are mobile in soil and water (including ground water).

3. What must surely identify or reject the pesticide question is the current scientific evidence and whether or not these pesticides have been tested properly

  • Should a pesticide be allowed onto the market for use on large areas of the landscape, without being properly tested?  Reading important reports by EFSA, this has been shown to have happened, and I think any individual or organisation denying the validity of the EFSA work had better have a firm scientific basis.
  • If it is discovered that a pesticide about which there are concerns, has NOT been properly tested, should sales be allowed to continue regardless, or should they be removed from the market pending ROBUST evidence, regardless of industry bleating?
  • Should industry be allowed to argue and argue to protect self interest indefinitely, at the expense of decisive action to protect public and environment interest?
  • Is it acceptable to turn a blind eye to the industry’s own incriminating evidence? Here we have an industry meeting (SETAC) in which it is acknowledged the regulatory tests for neonicotinoid (systemic) pesticides are inadequate:

Page 12 “Many who are familiar with pesticide risk assessment recognize that the methodology and testing scheme for foliar application products (where exposure may be primarily through surface contact) is not adapted to assess potential hazard and risk from systemic pesticides”.


When is it time to say “enough is enough” to industry? 

We’ve had agreement from independent scientists, NGOs, EFSA, and beekeepers across the globe, countless public petitions, an embarrassing number of flawed industry arguments and tests highlighted.  

How can any politician or civil servant expect to retain a shred of credibility by supporting the continued use of neonicotinoids?


More information:

We sometimes hear that Australia is experiencing no issues with honey bee decline despite the use of neonicotinoids.  Is this true? What does the President of the Australian Crop Pollinator's Association say?

What do manufacturer patents tell us about the potential dangers of their products?

How are Civil Servants handling the issue of honey bee declines?  In the UK, it looks like they are prepared to mislead the public and government ministers. Read more.

Is it enough to restrict neonicotinoids?

A new perspective: most insects are beneficial or harmless

Gardening for bees – something positive you can do!

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