28 February 2018

European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) has released its peer review of 1500 studies looking at whether neonicotinoids harm honeybees, bumblebees and wild bees. It says the risk is confirmed. British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) still supports EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. 

Update to BBKA Statement on Neonicotinoid Pesticides – 28th February 2018


This statement provides a further update on the position of the British Beekeepers Association in relation to the EU moratorium on the use of certain Neonicotinoid Pesticides released on 30th June 2017 and updated 9th November 2017 This update follows the release by the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) of their findings in relation to this issue.

BBKA Comments

As with the comments of the UK government, the EFSA findings have been led by sound science, something the BBKA has been consistent in calling for, as a basis for politicians to then make policy decisions. The EFSA have concluded

• Bees can be exposed to neonicotinoids in multiple ways, depending on the use of the pesticide. The assessments indicated that in many cases bees foraging on the treated crop in the field as well as in its vicinity are likely to be exposed to harmful levels of the neonicotinoid pesticides. This is because pollen and nectar of the treated crop contain pesticide residues, and plants in the vicinity can also be contaminated by dust drifting away from the field. In addition, the soil where the crop is planted can become contaminated with the pesticide. In some situations, the pesticide may persist and accumulate in the soil. These residues end up in the pollen and nectar of the newly grown plants. The information on this phenomenon is somewhat limited, but EFSA concluded that, in some cases, bees might still be exposed to harmful level of neonicotinoids pesticides through this route.

• There is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide and the route of exposure. Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.

The position of the BBKA has, and continues to be ‘That, until there is convincing independent scientific evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are not harmful to honey bees, the BBKA will support the continuation of the EU moratorium on their use’

This advice to the policy makers of the European Union is similar to that provided to the UK government and means that the BBKA will support the continuation of the moratorium on their use and would support an overall banning of their use.

It will now be up to the EU policy makers to decide whether to continue with the moratorium or indeed to ban the use of the particular neonicotinoids permanently.

We continue to remain concerned however that any alternative treatments used do not cause harm to honey bees and other pollinators.

Martin Smith Director of Communications

[email protected]