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November 4th, 2019

One of the more intriguing subplots in the melodramatic debate over neonicotinoids and the ‘future of bees’ is the apparent divergence of viewpoints by risk and regulatory agencies on the potential threat to pollinators posed by the insecticide.

There is no question that the health of bees is an issue––mostly, entomologists say, because of bee keeping practices, Varroa destructor mites (which vector roughly a dozen different diseases into beehives) and the widely prevalent gut fungus Nosema ceranae. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture in a March 2018 report and recent studies from agencies in Canada and Australia, where neonicotinoids are also widely used, seed treatments, which is how the insecticide is most commonly applied, are not a major health threat to honeybees.

Unlike chemicals that are sprayed on plant surfaces and remain on the plant, neonicotinoids are usually applied as a seed coating and are taken up throughout the plant—in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, pollen and nectar. Read more …