World Wide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides (Neonicotinoids & Fipronil) on Biodiversity and Ecosystems:

Summary Of Key Findings

The World Wide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems has made a synthesis of 1,121 published peer-reviewed studies spanning the last five years, including industry-sponsored ones.

It is the single most comprehensive study of neonics ever undertaken, is peer reviewed, and published as open access so that the findings and the source material can be thoroughly examined by others.

29 authors representing many disciplines synthesized the scientific knowledge of the impacts (real and potential) of these systemic pesticides.

Summary of key findings:

Insect Pollinators

  • Neonics and fipronil have impacts that extend far beyond the intended crop, plant and pest species.
  • In bees, field-realistic concentrations adversely affect individual navigation, learning, food collection, longevity, resistance to disease and fecundity.

    For bumble bees, irrefutable colony-level effects have been found, with exposed colonies growing more slowly and producing significantly fewer bumble bee queens.

    Field studies with free-flying bee colonies have proved difficult to perform, because control colonies invariably become contaminated with neonicotinoids, a clear demonstration of their pervasive presence in the environment.

  • Insect pollinators such as bees and butterflies are exposed to contamination through all four routes with:

    1. high exposure through air and plants
    2. medium exposure through water.

  • The assessment found that both individuals and populations can be adversely affected by low or acute exposure making them highly vulnerable.
  • Pollinators exposed to contaminated pollen, nectar and water are harmed at field realistic concentrations.

Terrestrial Invertebrates

  • Terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms are exposed to potential contamination via all four routes (air, water, soil, plants) with:

    1. high exposure through soil and plants
    2. medium exposure through surface water and leaching
    3. Low exposure via air (dusts)
  • The assessment found that both individuals and populations can be adversely affected by low or acute (i.e. ongoing) exposure making them highly vulnerable at field realistic concentrations – i.e., the concentrations which can be found in agriculture. These effects range from behaviour modification such as feeding inhibitions to mortality.

  • These species provide a myriad of ecosystem services, including the regulation and cycling of nutrients, carbon storage, and support for plant growth and are dependent on the diverse and complex biological communities that are present in soils.

Aquatic invertebrates

  • Aquatic invertebrates such as freshwater snails and water fleas which are exposed via water and potentially plants, are vulnerable to low and acute exposure and which can be affected at the individual, population and community levels.

  • The moderate to high water solubility of neonicotinoids enables them to contaminate both surface and groundwater and hence leach into waterways, where high concentrations have depleted aquatic insect abundance and diversity.

  • The impacts identified on this group are reduced feeding behaviour, impaired growth and mobility.


While vertebrate animals are generally less susceptible, bird populations are at risk from eating crop seeds treated with systemic insecticides.

Risks of systemic insecticides and Fipronil to biodiversity and natural eco systems.

Fish, Reptiles And Amphibians

  • Reptile numbers have been known to decline due to depletion of their insect prey.

  • Microbes, fish and amphibians were found to be affected after high levels of or prolonged exposure.

  • Samples taken in water from around the world have been found to exceed ecotoxicological limits on a regular basis.

We Need Biodiversity

This is an important infographic downloadable in the link provided top right. 

It summarizes the impact of neonicotinoids on different species, and the role those species play in the eco-system.

The role of various species in the eco system and the effect of neonicotinoids and that species.

Dose For Dose, Neonicotinoids Are More Toxic For Bees Than DDT:

Dose for dose, the neonicotinoid insecticides are more toxic for bees than the insecticide DDT.

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