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Pollinators research informs UK and European pesticides policy debate

Copyright: T.J. Gehling

Research using funding from the Insect Pollinators Initiative is informing the UK and European political debate on pesticide use.

Researchers studying the effects of pesticides on pollinators presented the results of their work to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Pollinators and Pesticides inquiry at the House of Commons in November 2012, and again in June 2014. The report subsequently produced by this committee informed, for example, the European Food Safety Authority’s work on the topic, among many others.

Both reports contributed to the European Commission discussions that led to a two-year moratorium (PDF) on certain neonicotinoid pesticides.

The evidence was provided by Professor Nigel Raine, one of the lead researchers on the Insect Pollinators Initiative-funded project investigating the effects of pesticides on bees, now based at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Working alongside him was Dr Christopher Connolly from the University of Dundee and Professor Dave Goulson, now at the University of Sussex, who has received funding from BBSRC to study the effects of agricultural practices and landscape on bee populations.

Data breakout

£10M Funding post for the Insect Pollinators Initiative’s nine studies
£5,000 Prize money awarded to Professor David Goulson for winning Social Innovator on the year Winner 2010 for founding the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
90% Of the pollination that takes place in the UK is done by wild pollinator species, such as bumble and solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, carrion flies, beetles, midges and moths

“There is on-going work on this subject and clearly we need to consider more evidence in the future and keep policy-makers aware of it,” says Raine. “For example, we published the first evidence that neonicotinoid exposure not only affects the behaviour of bees, but also the pollination services they provide to crops.”

Goulson was invited to Washington, DC, in March 2014 to speak to the US Congress regarding a congressional bill proposing restrictions on neonicotinoid use. Raine is also in contact with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) in Canada, which has a similar interest in the effects of pesticide use.

The research was supported by a £1.5M grant through the Insect Pollinators Initiative (funded by BBSRC, NERC, Defra, The Scottish Government and Wellcome Trust through the Living With environmental Change Programme), and through £1M BBSRC responsive mode grants. Read more Impact Evidence Reports from the IPI.

Read the full impact evidence report:

Header image copyright: TJ Gehling on Flickr by CC 2.0