the UK, we are constantly told that field studies for pesticides offer the favoured
and realistic method of assessing risk of pesticides to bees.
In contrast, doubt is often cast over independent laboratory studies.
On 13 September, Defra published an analysis of the results of its review of research done earlier in the year on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees. DEFRA is the UK Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs.
It relies on various departments to conduct different aspects of services that inform and support DEFRA, and two of these departments include FERA (Food And Environment Research Agency) and CRD (Chemical Regulations Directorate).
The whole assertion in the face of compelling laboratory data, is that the independent lab studies are not necessarily relevant because similar effects have not been observed in the field.
Indeed, field tests are used to cast doubt on the results and legitimacy of the independent laboratory studies, whilst at the same time, the independent field studies are ignored.
As an aside, I'm sure Bayer Cropscience would agree with CRD. They also seem very keen to suggest that what is important is ‘What’s happening in the field” as demonstrated in their response to the Pettis study (below).
In fact, thanks to independent lobbying from myself and others, EFSA, the European Food Standards Authority conducted a review:
Scientific Opinion on the science behind the development of a risk assessment of Plant Protection Products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp. and solitary bees).
many MAJOR weaknesses with the regulatory standards for the field tests for pesticides.
It is therefore absurd to suggest that field studies using flawed methodology, can be used in any way to trash an independent, peer reviewed laboratory study.
A quote from EFSA:
Astonishingly, the field test guidelines EPPO170 are devised, it appears, by a group of pesticide manufacturers and those related to the industry (e.g. providing consultancy services), as well as a sprinkling of government civil servants from the EU countries, such as Helen Thompson (one of the authors of the report described above) and Selwyn Wilkins of FERA, and Anne Alix of France.
In other words, the EU allows pesticide manufacturers a major hand in saying how their poisons should be judged suitable for regulatory approval.
It looks to me like the fox is guarding the chicken coup! They meet together at various symposiums to have a chat about the standards. For example, there was one such meeting in Bucharest in 2009:
So what were their aims?
"At the ICPBR- Bee Protection Group 10th Symposium (Bucharest, 2009-10-08/10.....the WGs (working groups) presented proposals for the revision of EPPO Standards, which were discussed in order to hear the expert comments and recommendations of all 79 participants and to reach a consensus."
So who were the 79 participants? They were mostly industry related people, again with a sprinkling of civil servants, including Helen Thompson mentioned above.
(Note: I used to have an external link to this report, but is has been removed).