Editorial PN91 E-mail

Populations of bees and other pollinators are in rapied decline all over the world. While the causes of this are many and complex, there is little doubt that the growing use of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides is contributing. This issue of Pesticides News includes a number of articles exploring the relationship between pesticides and pollinators.

On page 3, Heather Pilatic of PAN North America provides an update on the situation in the US where beekeepers have witnessed overwintering losses of 29% - 36% each year for the last four years. She highlights concerns over the 'fast tracking' of problem pesticides by the US EPA which released two neonicotinoids - imidacloprid and clothianidin - onto the US market in recent years with 'conditional registrations'.

The EU process for assessing the impact of pesticides on bees has also come in for criticism from beekeepers and the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory who have joined together to complain about pesticide industry involvement in the assessment process (page 19).

But politicians are waking up to the problem. Some 70 UK MPs have signed up to a motion to restrict neonicotinoids in the UK (page 10) and London Mayor Boris Johnson has launched an initiative to promote community beekeeping and make London a 'bee-friendly' city (page 11).

We also include afactsheet on imidacloprid (page 20). This neonicotinoid is on the world's 'bestseller' list with sales of around US$1 billion in 2009. However, it has been implicated in declines in bees and tis use has been restricted in some European  countries including France and Germany.

Many commentators have predicted that the temperature rises and changes to weather patterns predicted in the coming decades will result in increased pesticide use. However Lars Neumeister believes this does not have to be the case. He points out that socio-economic and regulatory factors have a greater impact on pesticide use than climate. He proposes that effective government policies to reduce pesticide use could more than offset increased pressure from climate change (page 16).

Integrated pest management (IPM) is mostly associated with agricultural systems, but on page 6 we report on the adoption of IPM in childcare centres in Illinois. Young children are particularly susceptible to damage from pesticides, so it is refreshing to read of a successful programme to reduce their exposure.

Meanwhile pesticide poisonings continue to cause problems in Latin America. On page 14 we report on the outcry from citizens and NGOs that has led governements to take steps to ban some of the most harmful substances.
 
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