Whether neonicotinoids harm bees and other insect pollinators is one of the most contentious questions that environmental policy makers have to grapple with today. In the last ten years over 400 scientific papers have been published on this topic, some contradicting each other, making it very difficult for non-specialists to access the entire evidence base.
18 months ago the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University brought together a group of experts in pollinator biology, with contrasting backgrounds and views, to review the evidence and to present it as a “restatement”: a concise summary intelligible to the non-specialist. In doing this the scientists aim to act as “honest brokers” – providing an account of the evidence and its imperfections but not directly recommending policies.
Since the restatement was published much new research has been published and the government chief scientific advisor asked the Martin School to do a new restatement summarising the recent evidence, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Journalists came to the SMC to hear about what the recent evidence tells us about how these insecticides affect honeybees, bumblebees and other pollinators. The new evidence reviewed includes the first major landscape-scale experiment (published last spring) and will form part of the background of the European Food Standards Authority’s review of the scientific evidence relating to the neonicotinoid moratorium (Regulation (EU) No 485/2013).
Prof. Charles Godfray, Hope Professor of Entomology, Oxford University
Prof. Angela McLean, Professor of Mathematical Biology and Senior Research Fellow, Oxford University
Both are also members of the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University.