Environmental Fate And Exposure: Economic And Agricultural Growth Essay


Manufacturers suggest that studies on the impact of neonicotinoids on bees is inconclusive and unrealistic in the wild. To what extent do you agree with this statement?


With growing economic and agricultural growth along with different pesticide and other chemical uses increasing with respect to time, it is a rising concerning issue with respect to harm to the environment (Van der Sluijs et al. 2013). It is a known fact that currently, farmers and the agricultural domain of the society is using several pesticides and chemical in order to increase the productivity level. From different scientific studies and data, it is proven that many of this chemical are harmful to the primary balance of the environment and other animals of the ecosystem as well. With respect to the current scenario, the most astonishing fact which is concerned are the critical issue the use of neonicotinoids and different agricultural chemicals and pesticide are harming the bee population of the ecosystem significantly. Scientists are concerned about this particular fact, and there is an enormous number of growing population who are raising voices against the of neonicotinoids (Laycock et al. 2014). As already understood that this aspect is very much serious and adding to this, the manufacturers of such agricultural products who uses neonicotinoids are stating that this particular substance does not harm the bees. As a result, a situation of huge controversy is rising in the global front. To overcome this situation, a broad and detailed study is needed to be carried in order to acquire more knowledge regarding the current context. This will also help to take soma decision regarding the issue as well.

As mentioned earlier, it is a known fact that a large amount of scientific consensus believes the fact that the bees that are exposed to neonicotinoids are being harmed in a such a manner that their population is also harming. With respect to this fact, another thing, which is needed to be mentioned, is that there are no significant amount data in the scientific society regarding this claim. Recently, a study carried out in Sweden suggested that the insecticides which are used predominantly overall the world do harm the population of bumblebees (Goulson et al. 2014). Adding to these, they also suggested that these particular insecticides also possessed no harm against the population of honeybees.

Figure 1: Overall Framework of Neonicotinoid effecting bees, Source: Godfray et al. 2014

In Figure 1, a complete structure of the chemical such as neonicotinoids and their derivatives affecting honeybees are given. From the figure, it can be said that the entire process is a cycle which affects the honey in a great manner. From this source, it can be said that neonicotinoid is closely related to the EBI fungicides. As a result, when the bee population preys on the floral resources, such chemicals affect them, and different disorders take place.

Another thing, which is needed to be mentioned with respect to the current context, is that neonicotinoid are broadly used in the European and American region. It is not predominantly used in the Asian and African nations. With respect to this current fact, it is important to note one thing that a number of bee deaths are less in such continents than the European and the American countries. Many scientists emphasize on this fact that this phenomenon is due to lack of uses of neonicotinoid and their derivatives for the purpose of agricultural purposes. Another aspect is that the manufacturers of such products say that there are several other reasons, such as pollution and other environmental factors affecting this scenario. Some also suggest that this is a just a coincidence, and there is no substantial evidence with respect to this fact (Stanley et al. 2015).

It is very important to consider the fact that bees are very important for our ecosystem. They play a vital role in terms of the pollination process regarding many food corps. But according to recent data, it is observed that the event of pollination by bees are decreasing significantly due to the loss of habitat, high use of pesticides and different sorts of diseases as well in the year of 2013. The European Union or EU banned the use of three particular neonicotinoids on the flowering crops for the period of two years. This particular step was taken because of the high-risk factor, which has been posed to the bees. One thing, which should also be noted, is that the United Kingdom Government opposed this ban. The European Food Safety Agency is currently assessing the different pieces of evidence in order to continue the ban on the use of large-scale field trial in the Germany, the United Kingdom and Hungary (Pisa et al. 2015).

From the above information, it can be said that it was very important to figure what are the fact and trust about neonicotinoids harming the bee population (Godfray et al. 2014). As a result, to conclude a sound statement it is important to have a broader insight into this particular context. Recently, it is observed that the extent to which neonicotinoids are used in the production of different pesticides are a concerning fact. Until now, there have been more that 400 studies published relating to this particular phenomenon. The most confusing part is that all these 400 studies state information that contradicts each other. As a result, the entire global community is divided on this particular issue or topic. According to Raine and Gill (2015), with respect to the current scientific understanding, insecticides are used to kill insects, bees and many other pollinators. As a result, if insecticides and pesticides are used in the agricultural fields, then these insects also are killed (Raine and Gill, 2015). The main controversy is regarding the fact that at which extent of the concentration level of such products harms the pollinators. The impact of such products varies due to different factors. These factors include types of insecticides, mode of application of such products as well. Currently, the most important aspect is considered regarding the bumblebees and the solitary bees, which have been greatly affected due to the uses of such insecticides and pesticides (Rundl?f et al. 2015).

Studies also show that several insecticides, which are currently in use in the agricultural field, are considered highly toxic to the honeybees and the bumblebees as well. Neonicotinoids are currently fond of the pollen and the nectar region, which are consumed by the pollinators such as butterflies and bees (Sgolastra et al. 2012). From scientific studies and research, it is a known fact that this substance can be lethal for these species with respect to particular concentration obviously. Another dangerous fact about neonicotinoid is that it can persist in the soil for several months and even for a longer period as well. Broad scientific research shows that these residues can sustain for several years as well and the amount, which is found, are considered very harmful and even lethal (Park et al. 2015). After using insecticides containing neonicotinoids, the plants absorb the neonicotinoids and other harmful residues and chemicals from the previous year as well. As a result, the whole process is a continuation and can go for a very longer period of time after stopping the usage as well. Another fact, which is needed to be highlighted, is that there are certain products for the homeowners as well which are used in the garden, ornamental plants and lawns. The substances manufactured for this purposes consists 120 times higher and harmful chemicals than the normal agricultural substances as well. As a result, in such cases, several folds increase the harmful effect. As a result, any scenario affects pollinators and situation where chemicals are used (Nakasu et al. 2014).

According to the study carried out by (Godfray et al. 2014), a broad statistical data can be observed in which it is observed that, when neonicotinoid containing pesticides are used, the death rate of bees increases to nearly forty percent. In control environment, the normal death rate is of about nearly twenty percent (Schneider et al. 2012). Therefore, it can be said that the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids and neonicotinoids derivates almost doubles the death rate of bees in the natural environment. As the result, it can be clearly stated that neonicotinoids have a negative effect on the population of bees. The percentage mentioned above is based on the Queen population of a colony. It is a known fact that the survival of Queen is very crucial in terms of survival of the entire colony. If the queen dies, then the entire colony disbands. As a result, from this aspect it can be said from the data mentioned above, the fact is, when neonicotinoid is used on bees, there is the chance that forty percent of the colonies perish. This is a very concerning fact in terms of stability regarding the eco system as well (Pohorecka et al. 2012).

There have been several protest against the manufacturers and users of neonicotinoid containing substances. However, their rivals suggest the manufacturer that these protests are politically motivated and are an act of vendetta. As a result, it can be said that the entire situation is very complex, and a broad study is required in order to clear the concept and confusion regarding this context.

Figure 2: Percentage Of Dead Beems After Treating With Neonicotinoids, Source: Brandt et al. 2016

Use of neonicotinoid also affects the event of Queen oviposition as well. The study suggests that uses of pesticides and neonicotinoid reduce the egg production rate of the queen as well. As a result, the population of the entire colony starts to decrease. Another great affect of such chemicals and pesticides is that the rate of successful production from eggs also decreases (Girolami et al. 2012). The percentage of reduction is considered to be nearly about forty in comparison with less than 15 percent in the normal scenario. So this can also be conceded as one of the major negative affects as well.

Figure 3: Unsuccessful Oviposition after Treatment with Neonicotinoids, Source: Brandt et al. 2016

In another study carried out by (Brandt et al. 2016), the toxicity level of different neonicotinoid derivatives were calculated. It suggested that most of the common derivatives, which are used currently in the field of agriculture, are toxic to the bees.

Figure 4: Toxic concentration of Neonicotinoid Derivatives with respect to bees, Source: Bonmatin et al. 2015

H stands for ‘Highly Toxic' and M stands for ‘Medium or Moderate Level Toxic'. As mentioned in figure 3, that Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam is considered highly toxic to the bees. Whereas, Acetamiprid and Thiacloprid is considered moderate level toxic for the bees. From the statistical data, it is observed that, the

There also several authors who have carried out the detailed study regarding this phenomenon. From this study, it can be stated that there are less amount of detailed information but also a presence of significant amount of data that certain derivatives of neonicotinoids affect several species of bees negatively (Di Prisco et al. 2013). But one thing which is also needed to be highlighted with respect to this current fact is that the manufacturers

Figure 5: Studies related to harmful effect of neonicotinoid and their conclusion, Source: Bonmatin et al. 2015

From the list mentioned above of studies, it can be concluded that the studies are not so conclusive regarding the harmful effect of such pesticides. Some of the studies are even unable to provide details of harmful effects. As a result, the manufacturers claim regarding the fact that neonicotinoids are not harmful are not cancelled straightway resulting in a broad controversy, which is still going on (Decourtye and Devillers 2010).

Recently the EFSA or the European Food Safety Authority has put the ban on the chemical substances ad pesticides containing neonicotinoids. However, one of the largest pesticide manufacturing companies, Syngenta has made its attempt to reverse the action. They stated that the scientific findings are wrong, and it was the injustice to impose the ban on such pesticides. On the 25 June 2014, Syngenta posted an application to the government of the United Kingdom, in order to lift the ban. Another manufacturing giant named Bayers, were also accused of manufacturing products containing nicotinoids, which is not only harming the population of bees but also killing several species of birds as well (Marzaro et al. 2011). A Dutch research suggested this fact in their studies. Bayer argued with this statement and suggested that the study was not convincing, and it failed to establish and demonstrate the casual link between neonicotinoids and the population of bees and birds. They suggested that the decrease in the population of bees and birds are caused due to climate change, and their product has no such relation with such cases as well (Cutler et al. 2014). They also lambasted the authors and researchers who have carried out this particular study and released research information with the help of peer scientists who suggested that neonicotinoids have no harmful effect. However, the name and accountability of these peer scientist are still in question. From this aspect, it can be said that the pesticide manufacturing companies who are engaged in the production of substances containing neonicotinoids not only reject the theory and assumption of neonicotinoids harming the bees but also suggesting that it may be caused due to other substances or the natural events such as climate change and others. One of the major reason behind such excuses can be pointed out as the researchers have been failed to establish a sound study relating to the topic (Laurino et al. 2014). Another thing, which can be mentioned, is that the company or organization is very much influential as well. The companies like Bayers and Syngenta also suggest that many farmers and growers are dependent on such products and the statistical data shows that the production rate of the crops has also increased due to the usage of such products in certain areas and farming fields (Brandt et al. 2016). As a result, the entire community is divided where the agricultural farmers on one side and the bee and honey farmers are on the other side. The manufacturing companies are also at the argument with the environmental activists.

As of now, there are some legal issues growing around the fact that whether the neonicotinoid and its derivatives are harmful to the environment especially to the bees. One thing, which is needed to mention, is this case is that there are several countries that have banned this chemical and some countries that are still encouraging the uses of neonicotinoid. With respect to this scenario, it is obvious that the situation is quite confusing and controversial for the general people (Bonmatin et al. 2015).

With respect to the above-mentioned information and facts, it can be concluded that there is some evidence in the scientific society, but it is also important to mention that the evidence is not quite detailed as well. As a result, there is an area of grey, where none of the both sides are convincing (Laycock et al. 2012). Adding to this it is important that the focus is on the high amount of death rates of the bees. This is a very concerning fact as it is harming the eco system and the honey industry greatly. Due to such events, there is also a dispute among the agricultural farm and the bee farmers as the business of the honey industry is affected negatively. The major prospects, which can be recommended with respect to this current fact it, can be said that there is a huge need of a proper and acceptable study relating to the harmful effects of neonicotinoid on bees. Apart from this, there is no such way that this argument and controversy can be ended as both sides are reluctant towards compromising (Goulson 2013). Another aspect, which is needed to be highlighted, is that the phenomenon with respect to current scenario is that, the honey industry is facing a lot of losses due to bee deaths. Some of the scientific studies are suggesting that neonicotinoid is responsible for this phenomenon, and it should be banned promptly. However, due to the substantial amount of research materials and evidence, not all countries are accepting this theory. Some countries have imposed a ban. Many countries are still entertaining the uses of neonicotinoid. As a result, there is always a possibility that it is continuously harming the environment, honey industry and the eco system as well (Laurino et al. 2011). As the growing environmental activists forum are becoming angry with the current scenario, it can be concluded that the current scenario is very much complex, and the government authorities should take proper steps to overcome this situation along with diminishing the controversy as well (Thompson 2013). If it is found that neonicotinoid and its different derivatives are affecting the bees, then the use of such substances should be banned, and this should be accepted by all the pesticide companies and countries as well. From this aspect, the unity among the global community with respect to this current scenario is considered very much important.


Bonmatin, J.M., Giorio, C., Girolami, V., Goulson, D., Kreutzweiser, D.P., Krupke, C., Liess, M., Long, E., Marzaro, M., Mitchell, E.A.D. and Noome, D.A., 2015. Environmental fate and exposure; neonicotinoids and fipronil.Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22(1), pp.35-67.

Brandt, A., Gorenflo, A., Siede, R., Meixner, M. and B?chler, R., 2016. The Neonicotinoids Thiacloprid, Imidacloprid, and Clothianidin affect the Immunocompetence of Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.). Journal of Insect Physiology.

Cutler, G.C., Scott?€ђDupree, C.D. and Drexler, D.M., 2014. Honey bees, neonicotinoids and bee incident reports: the Canadian situation. Pest management science, 70(5), pp.779-783.

Decourtye, A. and Devillers, J., 2010. Ecotoxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees. In Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (pp. 85-95). Springer New York.

Di Prisco, G., Cavaliere, V., Annoscia, D., Varricchio, P., Caprio, E., Nazzi, F., Gargiulo, G. and Pennacchio, F., 2013. Neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey bees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,110(46), pp.18466-18471.

Girolami, V., Marzaro, M., Vivan, L., Mazzon, L., Greatti, M., Giorio, C., Marton, D. and Tapparo, A., 2012. Fatal powdering of bees in flight with particulates of neonicotinoids seed coating and humidity implication. Journal of Applied Entomology, 136(1?€ђ2), pp.17-26.

Godfray, H.C.J., Blacquiere, T., Field, L.M., Hails, R.S., Petrokofsky, G., Potts, S.G., Raine, N.E., Vanbergen, A.J. and McLean, A.R., 2014. A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 281(1786), p.20140558.

Goulson, D., 2013. Review: An overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50(4), pp.977-987.

Goulson, D., Nicholls, E., Bot?as, C. and Rotheray, E.L., 2015. Bee declines driven by combined stress from parasites, pesticides, and lack of flowers.Science, 347(6229), p.1255957.

Laurino, D., Porporato, M., Patetta, A. and Manino, A., 2011. Toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to honey bees: laboratory tests. Bull Insectol,64(1), pp.107-113.

Laycock, I., Cotterell, K.C., O’Shea-Wheller, T.A. and Cresswell, J.E., 2014. Effects of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam at field-realistic levels on microcolonies of Bombus terrestris worker bumble bees. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 100, pp.153-158.

Laycock, I., Lenthall, K.M., Barratt, A.T. and Cresswell, J.E., 2012. Effects of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, on reproduction in worker bumble bees (Bombus terrestris). Ecotoxicology, 21(7), pp.1937-1945.

Marzaro, M., Vivan, L., Targa, A., Mazzon, L., Mori, N., Greatti, M., Petrucco Toffolo, E., Di Bernardo, A., Giorio, C., Marton, D. and Tapparo, A., 2011. Lethal aerial powdering of honey bees with neonicotinoids from fragments of maize seed coat. Bulletin of Insectology, 64(1), pp.119-126.

Nakasu, E.Y., Williamson, S.M., Edwards, M.G., Fitches, E.C., Gatehouse, J.A., Wright, G.A. and Gatehouse, A.M., 2014. Novel biopesticide based on a spider venom peptide shows no adverse effects on honeybees.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences,281(1787), p.20140619.

Park, M.G., Blitzer, E.J., Gibbs, J., Losey, J.E. and Danforth, B.N., 2015, June. Negative effects of pesticides on wild bee communities can be buffered by landscape context. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 282, No. 1809, p. 20150299). The Royal Society.

Pisa, L.W., Amaral-Rogers, V., Belzunces, L.P., Bonmatin, J.M., Downs, C.A., Goulson, D., Kreutzweiser, D.P., Krupke, C., Liess, M., McField, M. and Morrissey, C.A., 2015. Effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on non-target invertebrates. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22(1), pp.68-102.

Pohorecka, K., Skubida, P., Miszczak, A., Semkiw, P., Sikorski, P., Zagibaj?‚o, K., Teper, D., Ko?‚towski, Z., Skubida, M., Zda?„ska, D. and Bober, A., 2012. Residues of neonicotinoid insecticides in bee collected plant materials from oilseed rape crops and their effect on bee colonies. Journal of Apicultural Science, 56(2), pp.115-134.

Raine, N.E. and Gill, R.J., 2015. Ecology: Tasteless pesticides affect bees in the field. Nature.

Rundl?f, M., Andersson, G.K., Bommarco, R., Fries, I., Hederstr?m, V., Herbertsson, L., Jonsson, O., Klatt, B.K., Pedersen, T.R., Yourstone, J. and Smith, H.G., 2015. Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees. Nature, 521(7550), pp.77-80.

Schneider, C.W., Tautz, J., Gr?newald, B. and Fuchs, S., 2012. RFID tracking of sublethal effects of two neonicotinoid insecticides on the foraging behavior of Apis mellifera. PloS one, 7(1), p.e30023.

Sgolastra, F., Renzi, T., Draghetti, S., Medrzycki, P., Lodesani, M., Maini, S. and Porrini, C., 2012. Effects of neonicotinoid dust from maize seed-dressing on honey bees. Bulletin of Insectology, 65(2), pp.273-280.

Stanley, D.A., Garratt, M.P., Wickens, J.B., Wickens, V.J., Potts, S.G. and Raine, N.E., 2015. Neonicotinoid pesticide exposure impairs crop pollination services provided by bumblebees. Nature.

Thompson, H.M., 2003. Behavioural effects of pesticides in bees–their potential for use in risk assessment. Ecotoxicology, 12(1-4), pp.317-330.

Van der Sluijs, J.P., Simon-Delso, N., Goulson, D., Maxim, L., Bonmatin, J.M. and Belzunces, L.P., 2013. Neonicotinoids, bee disorders and the sustainability of pollinator services. Current opinion in environmental sustainability, 5(3), pp.293-305.

How to cite this essay: