Biotech Updates

EFSA Explains Risks Posed by Neonicotinoid Insecticides to Bees

January 23, 2013

Scientists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides namely clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxa. Neonicotinoids are insecticidal compounds which are derived from the tobacco plant. EFSA was asked by the European Commission to assess the risks associated with the use of the said insecticides with regard to their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development; their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior; and the risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three substances.

The study reveals that the seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides pose serious risk to bees from crops producing nectar and pollen, including oilseed rape, sunflowers and maize. The said study, however, was not comprehensive enough to conclude that neonicotinoids were contributing directly to bee colony collapse disorder, leading to healthy bee colonies'  sudden and sharp decline. Thus, EFSA is proposing a much more comprehensive risk assessment for bees and they also introduced a higher level of scrutiny for interpretation of field studies.

View EFSA's press release at