The ICPBR - What is it?

What is the ICPBR?

It is the International Commission For Plant Bee Relationships.

It was founded in 1950, by Anna Maurizio, and briefly, it has the objective to promote and co-ordinate research on the relationships between plants and bees of all types.


The scope of this research includes, for example, studies of insect pollinated plants, bee foraging behaviour, effects of pollinator visits on plants, management and protection of insect pollinators, bee collected materials from plants e.g. nectar and pollen, products derived from plants and modified by bees.

According to their website, the ICPBR has 3 working groups, and these are:

  • Nectar Working Group
  • Pollination Working Group
  • Bee Protection Working Group

It is this latter group, the ‘Bee Protection Group’ that may surprise many, particularly in view of who sits on this group, and the kinds of ideas and proposals they generate.

Let us take an example, and that is, the outcomes of the Bee Protection Working Group at ICPBR Bee Protection Group Symposium in 2008 - symposium notes here.

Firstly, the sponsors of this meeting were:

  • BASF Ag
  • Bayer CropScience AG
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • E.I. Dupont de Nemours
  • Syngenta Ltd.

Who attended this meeting in Bucharest (called: ‘The Hazard of Pesticides to Bees’? – a list of delegates here (opens new window).

You will note that almost all of them are conspicuously agrochemical industry representatives, or those who in some capacity, are employed by them, such as on a research consultancy basis, helping agchem get marketing authorisations for their pesticides, for example.

There were also Civil Servants in attendance, such as Helen Thompson and Selwyn Jenkins, UK civil servant working for FERA, the UK Food And Environment Research Agency.

Note that at the end of 2008, Helen Thompson, certainly had the role of Secretary of the ICPBR Bee Protection Group)(1).

Civil Servants are of course, meant to serve the good of the people and environment who they ultimately are supposed to work for.

What Were The Outcomes Of This ICPBR Bee Protection Group Symposium?

Two papers were produced which can be downloaded Paper 1 here and Paper 2 here.

You'll note that the subject of the papers was regulatory tests for pesticides.

Paper 1
Proposed revision of the higher tier testing requirements for EPPO Standard PP1/170: Test methods for evaluating the side-effects of plant protection products on honeybees

Paper 2

Proposal of the ICPBR Bee Brood Group for testing and assessing potential side effects from the use of plant protection products on honey bee brood

It is written by:
Roland Becker (BASF), Christine Vergnet (AFSSA), Christian Maus (Bayer Crop Science), Jens Pistorius (JKI), Ingo Tornier (Eurofins GAB), Selwyn Wilkins (Fera)

(This paper mentions ‘Bee Brood Group’ – the paper is produced under the ‘Bee Protection Group’ heading).

Who are the names on this paper?

They are all industry names apart from Wilkins and Vergnet, who are civil servants. Most of the authors’ allegiances are clear, but for further information:

    Jens Pistorius – J Kuehn Institute (agrochem research set up that conducts research in pesticides and GMO)

    Christine Vergnet - The French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety – appears to be a civil servant like Helen Thompson.

(NB. More recently, a leaflet: - Gavin Lewis in his role as Vice Chair of the ICPBR – but no mention of his employment with JSC International Ltd on that leaflet).

Firstly, the public and conservationists may be deeply concerned to see the attempts of industry to influence regulation.

Not only that, perhaps they would be surprised that the members of the pesticides industry (nowadays, calling itself the ‘Plant Protection Industry’) were so prevalent within this 'Bee Protection Group'. Many may feel this is an example of the ‘Fox guarding the chicken coup’.

Read more about the ICPBR Bee Protection Group - what do Beekeepers and Pressure Groups say?


(1) See foot notes

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