Neonicotinoids, bees and opportunity costs for conservation

Walters, K.F.A. and Didham, R. (2016) Neonicotinoids, bees and opportunity costs for conservation. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 9 (5). pp. 375-383.

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Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in the European Union are widely debated in relation to bee decline, but their potential consequences at the interface between sustainable crop production and conservation are less frequently discussed. This paper raises issues to be considered if we are to achieve a balanced consensus in this contentious area. The common legal framework governing testing and environmental impact for all chemical crop protection products is highlighted, leading to concerns that the current focus on impact of neonicotinoids is diverting attention from other drivers of bee decline to the detriment of a balanced conservation strategy. The evidence for the causal relationship between neonicotinoid use and bee decline is considered and information gaps requiring further work identified. How research into the parallel use of pesticides and beneficial invertebrates in integrated pest management (IPM) can inform the pollinator debate is highlighted. The importance of the neonicotinoids in major IPM systems is illustrated, leading to discussion of potential consequences for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable crop protection if they were lost and we revert to reliance on other pest management options. Increasing agricultural production and conservation are sometimes viewed as being contradictory and the paper concludes by calling for a broadening of the discussion to consider the complimentary objectives of bee conservation and sustainable crop production, so that advances in both fields can hasten consensus on the way forward, rather than perpetuating the current rather polarised debate.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Conservation, ecosystem services, EU moratorium, IPM, neonicoti-noid insecticides, neonicotinoids, sustainable pest management
Divisions: Crop and Environment Sciences
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 15:17
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2018 21:17

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