The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) this week petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), claiming that they “pose a serious risk to honeybees, wild bees, and other pollinators.”
The petition asks EPA to launch an immediate one-year review of neonics’ impact on bees, to determine if the pesticides’ use should be prohibited on bee-pollinated crops and ornamental plants—including shrubs and plants sold to consumers as “bee-friendly.”
At the same time, the journal Nature this week says a group of scientists in the Netherlands believe insect-eating birds have declined over the past 20 years with the increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
In reaction to the claims by the Dutch scientists, Bayer CropScience released a statement noting that they have shown no causal link between the insectivorous birds decline and the use of neonicotinoids. According to Bayer, the scientists make “no proper attempt to account for other possible sources of the reported decline such as climate change or nutrition” and also “ignore the fact that most of the bird species mentioned are not foraging to a large extent on insects emerging from water bodies.”
In conclusion, the letter to “Nature” provides no substantiated evidence of the alleged indirect effects of imidacloprid on insectivorous birds. Bayer CropScience is working with the Dutch authorities and agricultural stakeholders to ensure the safe use of imidacloprid-containing crop protection products and to preserve the environment.