Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Three banned types of neonicotinoid pesticides have been found to pose new risks to pollinators. (Photo: Sputnik UK London/flickr/cc)

New Study Reveals Yet More Risks to Bees from Controversial Pesticides

'The evidence of harm is clear,' says environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth

Nadia Prupis

Pesticides that have been banned in Europe over bee safety concerns may pose an even greater risk to pollinators than previously thought, a new report by the European Union's food safety watchdog reveals.

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, pose high risks to bees when sprayed on plant leaves, according to data by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in its report, published Wednesday—which bolsters previous findings that neonics harm pollinators when used as seed treatments or granules.

The EFSA studied three pesticides in particular—clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam—all of which were banned by the EU in 2013 for a two-year period after scientific reports warned of their dangers. The latest findings, said Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero, "confirmed what has already been demonstrated by a wealth of scientific evidence: neonicotinoids are a serious threat to bees and to the future of farming."

"The Commission should expand the EU-wide ban to cover all uses of neonicotinoids on all crops," Contiero said. "Viable non-chemical alternatives exist and the EU should encourage farmers to use them.”

José Tarazona, head of the EFSA's pesticide unit, told the Guardian on Wednesday it is "clear that in some cases there is data suggesting high toxicity and potential risk from these substances."

Neonic use has been linked to dramatic declines in populations of pollinators like bumblebees and honey bees, as well as insects like moths, ladybirds and hoverflies, which help reduce numbers of crop pests. All bee varieties in Europe have been placed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's red list (pdf) of threatened species.

"Another day and yet another study shows the high risk to bees from neonicotinoid pesticides," said Paul de Zylva, senior nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth (FOE), in response to the EFSA's study.

"The evidence of harm is clear," de Zylva continued. "Questions need to be asked about how these products were ever approved for use when they were not tested for their effects on different types of bees."

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom lifted its own moratorium on pesticides to allow for some limited use of two kinds of neonics—produced by agrochemical giants Bayer and Syngenta—by farmers growing oilseed rape on roughly 300 square kilometers of land. While the repeal is temporary, giving farmers access to the pesticides for only 120 days, the move sparked outrage among environmental advocates.

Wednesday's findings "underlines why neonics are restricted and why we are challenging the Government's decision to allow use of the banned pesticides in England," de Zylva said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo