Is the European Commission listening to evidence on the impact of pesticides on bees?

Following the publication last month of new research showing a link between the use of common neonicotinoid insecticides and bee mortality, the European Ombundsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros has launched an investigation into whether the European Commission has taken sufficient account of new scientific evidence on insecticide use, and appropriate measures to combat bee population declines.

The review was requested by the Austrian Ombundsman Board which stated that the Commission has not followed regulations which require a review of the authorisation of substances in the event that new scientific evidence suggests that they no longer meet approval criteria.

The continued use of neonicotinoid insecticides was permitted by the Commission in 2011, when it stated that it was aware of the toxicity of the substances, but argued that their use should be possible if exposure is limited to non-harmful levels. However, new research – including a study published in Science last month by a team at the University of Stirling, and summarised in an earlier Blog post – suggests that even very low levels of the substances have signficant detrimental effects on bee colonies.

More information about the inquiry is available on the European Ombundsman website.