Crop Biotech Update

Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Bumble Bees

April 10, 2013

The Food and Environment Research Agency released a report on the effect of neonicotinoid treatments on bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) authored by Helen Thompson and colleagues. The study aimed to test if neonicotinoid pesticides, used in conjunction with GM crops, has an effect on the health of bumble bee colonies.

The researchers compared the development of bumble bee from three sites near oilseed rape crops (A) untreated, (B) treated with clothisnidin, and (C) treated with imidacloprid. Differences in pesticide residues found in the bees were noted but were not linked to the treatment applied to the adjacent crop. This indicates that the bees forage over large distances. All colonies increased in number and survived until the end of the testing period. At sites with treatments A and B, the colonies grew to a higher terminal mass than colonies in treatment C, but all colonies had greater mass than control colonies. Variations in neonicotinoid residues were found across colonies within and between sites. However, no clear consistent relationships were found.

Read the research report at http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/scienceResearch/scienceCapabilities/chemicalsEnvironment/documents/reportPS2371Mar13.pdf.