Near-complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU

Government representatives approved on Friday a European Commission proposal to impose a near-total ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to drastic falls in populations of bees

Brussels, 27th April – Today, Member States have backed the proposal from the European Commission to ban all outdoor uses of 3 bee-killing neonicotinoids. By the end of the year, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam insecticides will finally disappear from our environment for the sake of our bees. PAN Europe warmly welcomes the European Commission’s steadiness in resisting to several Member States and the agroindustry that favour unsustainable practices in conventional farming.

A quarter of a century after being approved, neonicotinoids will be banned within a few months. EU Member States were requested to vote today on the proposal from the European Commission to ban all outdoor uses of 3 bee-killing neonicotinoids.

Since their approval at EU-level in the 90’s, neonicotinoids have been largely proven to harm honey bees, other pollinators and the environment as a whole. Several studies also indicate toxicity on human health.

After years of battle from beekeepers and environmentalists, the European Commission restricted the use of 3 highly bee-toxic neonicotinoids in 2013. Imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam were then banned on bee-attractive crops.

Since then, evidence showed that even application of neonicotinoids on non-bee-attractive crops led to exposure of bees as these substances are highly persistent in the environment. In the meantime, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a series of reports highlighting that there is no safe use for bees for these 3 insecticides. Based on EFSA’s conclusions, DG Sante sent to the Member States a proposal to ban all outdoor uses for these 3 substances in March 2017. Another EFSA report from February 2018 has permitted DG Sante to speed up the process and to ask Member States to vote on its proposal today.

Martin Dermine, PAN Europe’s Health and Environment Policy Officer said:

‘Authorising neonicotinoids during a quarter of a century was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Today’s vote is historic. A majority of Member States gave a clear signal that our agriculture needs transition. Using bee-killing pesticides cannot be allowed anymore and only sustainable practices should be used to produce our food’.

PAN Europe is a member of the Save the Bees Coalition, a coalition gathering more than 100 EU NGOs that acted at EU and national levels to obtain today’s ban.  Reference.

On Twitter


Protégeons la pollinisation !

Se débarrasser complètement des pesticides néonicotinoïdes doit rester une priorité

Téléchargez le Guide des Solutions Zéro Pesticide !

Effects of Neonicotinoids on Pregnancy Outcomes

The use of a unique co-culture model of fetoplacental steroidogenesis as a screening tool for endocrine disruptors: The effects of neonicotinoids on aromatase activity and hormone production

A recent study contributes to growing evidence of endocrine disrupting potential of imidacloprid insecticide. Its effect on estrogen and placental enzymes during pregnancy may impact birth outcomes.

2017 Study Abstract

Estrogen biosynthesis during pregnancy is dependent on the collaboration between the fetus producing the androgen precursors, and the placenta expressing the enzyme aromatase (CYP19). Disruption of estrogen production by contaminants may result in serious pregnancy outcomes.

We used our recently developed in vitro co-culture model of fetoplacental steroidogenesis to screen the effects of three neonicotinoid insecticides on the catalytic activity of aromatase and the production of steroid hormones. A co-culture of H295R human adrenocortical carcinoma cells with fetal characteristics and BeWo human choriocarcinoma cells which display characteristics of the villous cytotrophoblast was exposed for 24h to various concentrations of three neonicotinoids: thiacloprid, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid.

Aromatase catalytic activity was determined in both cell lines using the tritiated water-release assay. Hormone production was measured by ELISA. The three neonicotinoids induced aromatase activity in our fetoplacental co-culture and concordingly, estradiol and estrone production were increased. In contrast, estriol production was strongly inhibited by the neonicotinoids. All three pesticides induced the expression of CYP3A7 in H295R cells, and this induction was reversed by co-treatment of H295R cells with exogenous estriol. CYP3A7 is normally expressed in fetal liver and is a key enzyme involved in estriol synthesis. We suggest that neonicotinoids are metabolized by CYP3A7, thus impeding the 16α-hydroxylation of fetal DHEA(-sulfate), which is normally converted to estriol by placental aromatase. We successfully used the fetoplacental co-culture as a physiologically relevant tool to highlight the potential effects of neonicotinoids on estrogen production, aromatase activity and CYP3A7 expression during pregnancy.

  • The use of a unique co-culture model of fetoplacental steroidogenesis as a screening tool for endocrine disruptors: The effects of neonicotinoids on aromatase activity and hormone production, Toxicology and applied pharmacology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 28750898, 2017 Oct.
  • NRDC to EPA: Red Flags on Imidacloprid Health Risks, nrdc, November 29, 2017.
  • Imidacloprid featured image via oregonsustainablebeekeepers.

Popular farm pesticides found in drinking water

Occurrence of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Finished Drinking Water and Fate during Drinking Water Treatment

A team of chemists and engineers at the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Iowa reported that they found neonicotinoids in treated drinking water. It marks the first time that anyone has identified this class of pesticide in tap water.

2017 Study Abstract

Neonicotinoid insecticides are widespread in surface waters across the agriculturally intensive Midwestern United States.

We report for the first time the presence of three neonicotinoids in finished drinking water and demonstrate their general persistence during conventional water treatment.

Occurrence of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Finished Drinking Water and Fate during Drinking Water Treatment,
American Chemical Society, April 5, 2017.

Periodic tap water grab samples were collected at the University of Iowa over 7 weeks in 2016 (May–July) after maize/soy planting.

Clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam were ubiquitously detected in finished water samples at concentrations ranging from 0.24 to 57.3 ng/L.

Samples collected along the University of Iowa treatment train indicate no apparent removal of clothianidin or imidacloprid, with modest thiamethoxam removal (∼50%).

First evidence found of popular farm pesticides in drinking water, washingtonpost, April 5, 2017.

Image credit ℒaura Tou.

In contrast, the concentrations of all neonicotinoids were substantially lower in the Iowa City treatment facility finished water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration.

Batch experiments investigated potential losses. Thiamethoxam losses are due to base-catalyzed hydrolysis under high-pH conditions during lime softening.

GAC rapidly and nearly completely removed all three neonicotinoids. Clothianidin is susceptible to reaction with free chlorine and may undergo at least partial transformation during chlorination.

Our work provides new insights into the persistence of neonicotinoids and their potential for transformation during water treatment and distribution, while also identifying GAC as a potentially effective management tool for decreasing neonicotinoid concentrations in finished drinking water.

Neonicotinoids chemicals use on crops and losses of wild bee species

Decline of wild bee species in England linked to pesticide use

The decline of England’s wild bees has been linked for the first time to the use of controversial neonicotinoid pesticides on oilseed rape farms.

Neonicotinoids are applied to the seed prior to planting and can be transported to all tissues of a crop, meaning creatures that feed on the nectar will ingest them.

The various effects such pesticides might have on bees have been documented before, but there was no strong evidence linking them to long-term losses of wild bee species.

Decline of wild bee species in England linked to pesticide use, newscientist, 16 August 2016.

Now, Ben Woodcock at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Oxfordshire, UK, and his colleagues have studied data on 62 species collected by volunteers from more than 31,818 surveys across more than 4000 square kilometres of land.

They looked at bee populations between 1994 and 2011. In England, farmers first started using neonicotinoids on oilseed rape in 2002.

Controversial insecticides linked to wild bee declines, nature, 16 August 2016.

They found the average decline in populations across all bee species was 7 per cent since 2002. Some species, such the Bronze Furrow bee and the Spined Mason bee declined by 20 per cent or more.


Wild bee declines have been ascribed in part to neonicotinoid insecticides.

Impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term population changes in wild bees in England, nature, 16 August 2016.

Image march-against-monsanto.

While short-term laboratory studies on commercially bred species (principally honeybees and bumblebees) have identified sub-lethal effects, there is no strong evidence linking these insecticides to losses of the majority of wild bee species. We relate 18 years of UK national wild bee distribution data for 62 species to amounts of neonicotinoid use in oilseed rape.

Using a multi-species dynamic Bayesian occupancy analysis, we find evidence of increased population extinction rates in response to neonicotinoid seed treatment use on oilseed rape. Species foraging on oilseed rape benefit from the cover of this crop, but were on average three times more negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoids than non-crop foragers.

Our results suggest that sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids could scale up to cause losses of bee biodiversity. Restrictions on neonicotinoid use may reduce population declines.

57 Different Pesticides found in Poisoned Honeybees

Honeybees are being poisoned – new test reveals how

Honeybee-Poisoning image
A new method that can detect a large range of pesticides in bees could help scientists work out what is causing the global decline in honey bees. A study using the method found up to 57 different pesticides and digested pesticide compounds in poisoned honey bees.


57 Different Pesticides Found in Poisoned Honeybees, elsevier, February 10, 2016.

A method for the determination of 200 pesticides and pesticide metabolites in honeybee samples has been developed and validated.

Almost 98% of compounds included in this method are approved to use within European Union, as active substances of plant protection products or veterinary medicinal products used by beekeepers to control mites Varroa destructor in hives.

Many significant metabolites, like metabolites of imidacloprid, thiacloprid, fipronil, methiocarb and amitraz, are also possible to detect.

Honeybees are being poisoned – new test reveals how, elsevier, 10 March 2016.

The sample preparation was based on the buffered QuEChERS method. Samples of bees were extracted with acetonitrile containing 1% acetic acid and then subjected to clean-up by dispersive solid phase extraction (dSPE) using a new Z-Sep+ sorbent and PSA. The majority of pesticides, including neonicotionoids and their metabolites, were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) but some of pesticides, especially pyrethroid insecticides, were analyzed by gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (GC–MS/MS). The procedure was validated according to the Guidance document SANCO/12571/2013 at four concentration levels: 1, 5, 10 and 100 ng/g bees and verified in the international proficiency test.

Multi-residue method for the determination of pesticides and pesticide metabolites in honeybees by liquid and gas chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry—Honeybee poisoning incidents, Journal of Chromatography A on sciencedirect, S0021967316300012, February 2016.

The analysis of bee samples spiked at the limit of quantification (LOQ) showed about 98% mean recovery value (trueness) and 97% of analytes showed recovery in the required range of 70–120% and RSDr (precision) below 20%. Linearity and matrix effects were also established. The LOQs of pesticides were in the range of 1–100 ng/g.

The developed method allows determination of insecticides at concentrations of 10 ng/g or less, except abamectin and tebufenozide. LOQ values are lower than the median lethal doses LD50 for bees.

The method was used to investigate more than 70 honeybee poisoning incidents. Data about detected pesticides and their metabolites are included.

EPA’s first neonicotinoid assessment confirms risk to bees

EPA says chemical neonicotinoids can harm bee colonies in certain situations

image of honey-bee
A widely used neonicotinoid insecticide poses a risk to honey bees, EPA said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said today in a “pollinator risk assessment” that imidacloprid, a popular neonicotinoid pesticide, poses a significant risk to honeybees — but it failed to examine risks to nearly 4,000 North American native bees and all other pollinators, including imperiled butterflies, bats and birds.

” You can’t claim to do a ‘pollinator risk assessment’ and really only look at one pollinator, the honeybee,that’s not only cheating on the purpose of this work but also cheating the native bees, birds, butterflies and other species threatened by this pesticide. In fact, many of these other pollinators are even more vulnerable to neonicotinoids than honeybees. ”
said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity “

Today’s analysis indicates that for some crop uses, honeybees can be exposed to imidacloprid at concentrations that negatively affect the health of the hive. But a recent Nature study found that wild bees are more sensitive to the acute toxic effects of neonicotinoids — specifically that neonicotinoid seed coatings reduce wild bee density, solitary bee nesting and bumblebee colony growth. The EPA did acknowledge that bumblebees are affected by the pesticide at much lower levels than honeybees, but it nonetheless failed to properly assess the risk.

Continue reading EPA Concludes Neonicotinoids Pose Risk to Bees, Fails to Analyze Other Pollinators, biologicaldiversity, January 6, 2016.

WSJ press release:EPA Says Insecticide May Pose Risk to Bees, Jan. 6, 2016.

L’usage des néonicotinoides interdit en France le 01.01.2016

L’Assemblée Nationale vote l’interdiction des insecticides néonicotinoïdes

Le texte original de cet article provient de Générations Futures.

Dans le cadre de la loi sur la biodiversité débattue en ce moment à l’Assemblée Nationale, les Députés viennent d’adopter un amendement interdisant l’usage des néonicotinoides à compter du 1er janvier 2016.. Image via thierry ehrmann.

C’était une demande portée par plusieurs élus (à la fois EELV et PS). De nombreuses associations, dont Générations Futures, avait proposé des amendements en ce sens. L’adoption de cette interdiction de « L’usage des produits phytosanitaires de la famille des néonicotinoïdes [… ] à compter du 1er janvier 2016. » est une bonne nouvelle. Il faudra cependant s’assurer que cet amendement N°754 ne soit pas revu lors du passage au Sénat et amendé avec de possibles dérogations.

Pour rappel les néonicotinoides sont mis en cause dans la disparition de nombreuses colonies d’abeilles.

Après le rejet de la résolution Labbé sur ce même sujet, voilà une bonne nouvelle en prévision du lancement demain de la 10ème Semaine pour les alternatives aux pesticides!

D’autres articles sont encore à débattre notamment l’article 51 concernant le date d’entrée en vigueur de l’interdiction des pesticides en milieu urbain (avancée à 2016). Nous espérons aussi une bonne surprise sur ce point qui devrait être débattu dans les prochaines heures.

En savoir plus

  • Abeilles : l’Assemblée vote l’interdiction des insecticides néonicotinoïdes en 2016, le monde, 19.03.2015.
  • Abeille/pesticides: L’AN vient d’adopter un amendement interdisant l’usage des néonicotinoides début 2016, Générations Futures, 19 mars 2015.

Pesticides et biodiversité : on sait quelles espèces meurent

L’impact des pesticides sur les écosystèmes

Cette nouvelle méta-analyse des pesticides systémiques consiste à réunir les résultats d’un grand nombre d’autres études (plus de 800 publications scientifiques au total) pour en faire une synthèse.

On n’en finit pas de découvrir les dégâts des pesticides sur l’environnement et la santé. Cette fois, c’est une nouvelle « méta-analyse » qui dresse une synthèse très large.

Elle décrit sur quelles espèces les pesticides étendent leurs néfastes influences. Autrement dit, c’est un tableau de l’impact des pesticides sur la biodiversité qui nous est proposé. Pas rassurant. ”

  • L’impact des pesticides sur les écosystèmes
  • En quoi cette étude est-elle importante ?
  • Des effets immédiats et chroniques
  • Pesticides et biodiversité : les espèces affectées et les plus touchées
  • La question des abeilles mellifères
  • Consommation de pesticides dans le monde
  • Qu’est-ce qu’un pesticide systémique ?

Lisez Pesticides et biodiversité : on sait quelles espèces meurent, ConsoGlobe, Environnement, 08/2014.

Neonicotinoids Pesticides and DDT Remains are Decimating Birds in North America and Europe

Neonicotinoids are the new DDT killing the natural world

DDT ad image
Neonicotinoids are the new DDT: a class of poisons licensed for widespread use before they had been properly tested, which are now ripping the natural world apart. – Sloss DDT advert via Francis Storr

Michigan yards songbirds are still being poisoned by DDT, a pesticide that was banned in the United States more than 40 years ago. Lethal concentrations were found in the birds’ brains, as well as in the worms they eat.

The stunning decline in bird numbers in North America and Europe are also being linked to a new generation of insecticides called neonicotinoids, a poison 5,000-10,000 times more toxic than DDT.
A recent study results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.

Sources and More Information:

  • Songbirds dying from DDT in Michigan yards; Superfund site blamed, EnvironmentalHealthNews, dead-robins, July 28, 2014.
  • The ‘New DDT’ Is Starving Out Songbirds,
    MotherBoard, read, July 10, 2014.
  • Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations,
    Nature, doi:10.1038/nature13531, 09 July 2014.
  • Neonicotinoids are the new DDT killing the natural world, TheGuardian, environment/georgemonbiot, 05 Aug 2013.