The honey bees of the French countryside suffered a catastrophic die-off between 1994 and 1998. Unsurprisingly, the mass mortalities coincided with the introduction of several new-to-the-market agricultural insecticides. Environmentalists and farmers were quick to point the finger at one in particular: imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid produced primarily by the pharmaceutical giant BAYER. By 1999, enough pressure had mounted to result in a ban of imidacloprid by the French Ministry of Agriculture.
However, as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a new study is suggesting that imidacloprid wrongly took the brunt of the blame. It turns out, fipronil – not a neonicotinoid – may have actually been responsible for the die-off. Read more