Sunday, 29 January 2017

Bees and neonicotinoids >>> "Chemical companies pitch bug-killing options"

Bees and insecticides generated a lot of excitement last year:
Futures Forum: Bees and pesticides: withdrawl of neonicotinoid
Futures Forum: Challenging toxic chemicals on the farm >>> the award-winning documentary 'The Real Dirt on Farmer John' >>> Bridport: Saturday 13th June
Futures Forum: Bees and lobbying over neonicotinoids >>> crunchtime: Wednesday 4th May
Futures Forum: Brexit: and bees
Futures Forum: "Neonicotinoid insecticides linked to wild bee decline"

Bees and neonicotinoids are back in the news this week:

New research debunks honey bee pesticide study

January 23, 2017

A study by a global agrochemical company that concluded there was only a low risk to honey bees from a widely used agricultural pesticide has been described as "misleading" in new research published by statisticians at the University of St Andrews.

Pesticides called neonicotinoids or neonics may be implicated in losses of honey bees and other pollinators. The economic value of honey bees and bumble bees on the pollination of commercially grown crops has been estimated at over £200 million a year in the UK alone.

A major study conducted by Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta on the effects of the neonic thiamethoxam on honey bees in the field concluded that there was only a low risk to honey bees.

New research conducted at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) by Dr Robert Schick, Professor Jeremy Greenwood and Professor Steve Buckland shows even large and important effects could have been missed because the Syngenta study was statistically too small. Their findings are published today in the international journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

New research debunks honey bee pesticide study

Europe should expand bee-harming pesticide ban, say campaigners

Thursday 12 January 

The threat posed to bees by neonicotinoid pesticides is greater than perceived in 2013 when the EU adopted a partial ban, new report concludes

Europe should expand a ban on bee-harming pesticides in light of a new report warning of widespread risks to agriculture and the environment, Greenpeace has said.

The report by biologists at the University of Sussex and commissioned by Greenpeace, concluded that the threat posed to bees by neonicotinoid pesticides was greater than perceived in 2013 when the European Union adopted a partial ban.

“New research strengthens arguments for the imposition of a moratorium” on the use of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, the analysis concluded. It has become evident that they pose significant risks to many ... organisms, not just bees.”

Europe should expand bee-harming pesticide ban, say campaigners | Environment | The Guardian

However, other studies show that treating seeds rather than the plant is not nearly as harmful:

Study shows not all neonic seed treatments harm bees

Richard Allison Thursday 28 April 2016 

New research suggests that one of the three banned neonicotinoid seed treatment actives does not have an adverse effect on bee health.

Back in December 2013, the EU banned the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on mass-flowering crops, like oilseed rape, due to fears over bee health. The restrictions covered three seed treatment active ingredients – thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid.

However, new research led by Chris Connolly, a researcher at the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at the University of Dundee, has discovered key differences between the actives.

Study shows not all neonic seed treatments harm bees - Farmers Weekly

It all started back in 2008 over the treatment of seeds:


In 2008, Germany revoked the registration of clothianidin for use on seed corn after an incident that resulted in the death of millions of nearby honey bees.[31] 

An investigation revealed that it was caused by a combination of factors:
> failure to use a polymer seed coating known as a “sticker”
weather conditions that resulted in late planting when nearby canola crops were in bloom;
> a particular type of air-driven equipment used to sow the seeds which apparently blew clothianidin-laden dust off the seeds and into the air as the seeds were ejected from the machine into the ground;
> dry and windy conditions at the time of planting that blew the dust into the nearby canola fields where honey bees were foraging;[32]

In Germany, clothianidin use was also restricted in 2008 for a short period on rapeseed. After it was shown that rapeseed treatment did not have the same problems as maize, its use was reinstated under the condition that the pesticide be fixed to the rapeseed grains by an additional sticker, so that abrasion dusts would not be released into the air.[33]

Neonicotinoid - Wikipedia
Pesticide-laden dust emission and drift from treated seeds during seed drilling: a review - Nuyttens - 2013 - Pest Management Science - Wiley Online Library
Bee poisoning incidents in Germany in Spring 2008 caused by abrasion of active substance from treated seeds during sowing of maize (PDF Download Available)

Several bans followed - but the danger is that farmers will just end up applying even deadlier chemicals which will affect much more insect life:

Chemical companies pitch bug-killing options amid neonic farm bans

By Rod Nickel Reuters 15 December 2016

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Companies that make bug-killing chemicals and natural remedies are racing to take advantage of restrictions on neonics, a type of insecticide popular with farmers but blamed for harming bees and mayflies.

Global sales of neonicotinoids, or neonics, were $3.01 billion last year, accounting for almost 18 percent of the global insecticides market, according to consultancy Phillips McDougall. Insecticide sales fell sharply year-over-year, partly because of a 2013 European Union ban on some neonics. The restrictions are expanding in parts of Canada and the United States.

Ontario, Canada's biggest corn-growing province, is phasing in regulations by 2020 that force farmers to prove they have insect problems before using neonics, because of high rates of bee deaths. The Canadian government said last month it would phase out the neonic imidacloprid, made by Bayer AG, because it harms aquatic bugs. 

That trend opens the door for companies with alternatives, such as Syngenta AG, Dow Chemical and DuPont, as well as smaller companies with cutting-edge biological techniques. Syngenta also makes neonics. Syngenta launched Fortenza, which does not face similar restrictions as neonics, last year in Ontario and is tapping into rising demand. "We were fortunate that Fortenza was registered when it was," spokesman Chris Davison said.

Dow's Isoclast Active controls many of the same pests as neonics, spokeswoman Rachelle Schikorra said. "The Syngentas and Dows of the world certainly have the leg up in this space because they already have distribution channels," said Laura Lee, a Lux Research analyst. "As they develop these solutions, they can push them through the same channels."

Ontario restrictions prompted Monsanto Co to treat less of its Dekalb corn seed with neonics in that market in 2017, and add a line of corn seed coated with DuPont's Lumivia alternative, said spokeswoman Trish Jordan.


Replacing neonics with different chemicals does not please environmentalists.

"My hope is we move away from pesticides and only use them when we absolutely have to," said Faisal Moola, a regional director-general with the David Suzuki Foundation environmental group.

Biological approaches are also available. Marrone Bio Innovations' Venerate uses compounds harvested from dead bacteria to kill insects.

BioFence vegetable pellets, organic fertilizer made by Agrium unit Triumph Italia, are mixed into soil to strengthen plants against some of the same insects targeted by neonics, Agrium spokesman Richard Downey said. "Hopefully, (the alternatives) will do close to the same job," said Mark Brock, Grain Farmers of Ontario chairman. 

Some farmers worry the alternatives will not be adequate. France's plan to ban all neonics in 2018 could result in 6 percent lower rapeseed yields, because of insect damage, said Fabien Lagarde, a director at French oilseed technical center Terres Inovia. The ban may end up being delayed until 2020 if an alternative is unavailable. "There's no way we can do without neonicotinoids," Lagarde said. 

Few alternatives are available for horticulture, whose industries individually are smaller than those of field crops, said Craig Hunter, a manager with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. "We see no silver bullet. We could be in serious trouble almost overnight."

Chemical companies pitch bug-killing options amid neonic farm bans

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