Bees, Lies and Evidence-based Policy

(The following was submitted by Mary Beth Murril throuch LACBA Sec, Stacy McKenna)  By Lynn Dicks   2/20/13

Misinformation forms an inevitable part of public debate, but scientists should always focus on informing the decision-makers, advises Lynn Dicks.

Saving bees is a fashionable cause. Bees are under pressure from disease and habitat loss, but another insidious threat has come to the fore recently. Concern in conservation and scientific circles over a group of agricultural insecticides has now reached the policy arena. Next week, an expert committee of the European Union (EU) will vote on a proposed two-year ban on some uses of clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. These are neonicotinoids, systemic insecticides carried inside plant tissues. Although they protect leaves and stems from attack by aphids and other pests, they have subtle toxic effects on bees, substantially reducing their foraging efficiency and ability to raise young. 

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