New worldwide scientific analysis: Systemic pesticides pose global threat to bees and biodiversity

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Systemic insecticide neonicotinoids Fipronil biodiversity bee decline

Press Release Brussels, 24 of June 2014

For four years, 29 scientists, members of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, have undertaken a worldwide assessment on neonicotinoids and fipronil ( The assessment pulled together 800 peer reviewed studies and confirms that neonicotinoids and fipronil are key factors in the decline of bees. The study goes a step further as its main conclusion is the significant risks of systemic pesticides neonicotinoids and fipronil to biodiversity and ecosystems.

Bee Life welcomes this independent assessment that clearly confirms the field observations and damages to honeybees that beekeepers have been claiming since 20 years. The study shows that the decline of bees reveals a much broader degradation which extents to a wide range of animals and habitats.

The study demonstrates that neonicotinoids and fipronil affect a wide range of living organisms. Terrestrial invertebrates, such as earthworms and insect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies are the most affected. These pesticides also have an impact on aquatic invertebrates, birds, fish, amphibians and microbes. Currently, there is insufficient data to assess the impact on mammals or reptiles.

As argued by Bee Life for a long time, neonicotinoids and fipronil are highly nerve toxic substances. They are persistent and accumulate in soils, sediments, water, treated and non-treated vegetations. Beekeepers have noticed that bees are exposed to contaminated nectar, pollen, water and dust. The study confirms the long-term and multiple sources of exposure of bees and pollinators to these substances. It shows that field realistic concentrations of neonicotinoids and fipronil adversely affect individual navigation, learning, food collection, longevity, resistance to disease and fecundity of bees.

The large-scale use of these pesticides is not sustainable. Such use can only result in a global decline of biodiversity, leading to a serious risk in the stability and balanced functioning of ecosystems, and affect ecosystem services, such as pollination, nutrient cycling and pest control.

Francesco Panella, President of Bee Life said, “For 20 years, honeybees have been a perfect indicator to alert us on the state of health of the ecosystems. This worldwide study confirms that the impacts of neonicotinoids and fipronil are much broader than the decline of bees. These systemic pesticides affect the whole ecosystem. Therefore, broader and global political actions must be considered. Politicians must ban the use of these substances in Europe and implement biodiversity friendly farming."

Contact :
Francesco Panella,
President of Bee Life
Tel: +32 10 47 16 34