Bayer Says Bee Study Is “Seriously Flawed”

Bayer CropScience has reviewed the study for publication in the June issue of the Bulletin of Insectology regarding imidacloprid’s supposed impact on honey bee colony health. According to the company, the study is factually inaccurate and is seriously flawed, both in its methodology and conclusions.

Although the study claims to have established a link between imidacloprid and bee colony collapse, the symptoms observed in the study bees are not consistent with, or even remotely similar to, those of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). As such, the authors’ claims that their study explains the causes of CCD are incorrect.

Additionally, the authors assume erroneously that the majority of corn grown in the United States has been treated with imidacloprid. In actuality, over the past 8 years, the annual percentage of total corn acres in the U.S. treated with imidacloprid has been less than half a percent. Thus, the suggestion that imidacloprid is affecting honey bee health via residue found on corn or through corn products is also grossly inaccurate. 

The study’s additional flaws include the following:

  • The imidacloprid concentrations selected for testing were NOT based on measured residues in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), but on a series of implausible and unsubstantiated assumptions.
  • The study bees were fed HFCS spiked with different levels of imidacloprid that were far above real-world exposure levels.
  • In separate research, analysis from actual field grown corn samples, have shown no detectable imidacloprid residues in HFCS.
  • The study lacked replication of test colonies within apiaries and the total number of colonies per treatment group were too few to allow a meaningful statistical analysis of colony survival. 
  • The authors ignored the scientific consensus that bee health is impaired by multiple factors, including inadequate diet, pests and parasites such as the varroa mite, microbial diseases, mismanaged colonies, and loss of genetic diversity.

Imidacloprid and neonicotinoid insecticides, generally, remain safe and effective management tools to control a wide range of destructive insect pests. Throughout the many years that imidacloprid has been commercially available and used, there has been no credible scientific evidence demonstrating a link between this active ingredient – or other neonicotinoids – and increases in honey bee colony losses and declining honey bee colony health. This latest study is no exception.

All new bee research involving bee health is welcome and great care should be taken to avoid sweeping, unsupportable conclusions based on artificial and unrealistic study parameters that are wildly inconsistent with actual field conditions and insecticide use.

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10 comments on “Bayer Says Bee Study Is “Seriously Flawed”

  1. sbul

    Bayer should have to prove that their products does not harm the environment (i.e. bees) and not the other way around where regulators have to prove that it does.

  2. Deborah

    Bayer Says Bee Study Is "Seriously Flawed" HA HA Of course they do. Those of us who keep bees live with that result every day. Most EU countries have banned neonicotinoids. AW Bayer profits are in danger. I guess they think we're stupid here. I'm personally tired of hearing about all the cancer here in grain farming country–I have unexplained breast cancer. I'm tired of running inside my home to close the windows on a sunny day because the farmers are spraying. Why are we allowing this crap to be sprayed on crops, enter our food supply, kill our precious bees, destroy our bodies? Enough is enough.

  3. Ed Fenzl

    I have worked in the Landscape and Parks Industry for over 30 years. I believe nicotine based insecticides were restricted and then banned in the United States at least during the 60's and 70's (maybe longer?) because it was known that nicotine in all it's forms is lethal to bees. Has there been political influence which has reversed the restrictions and been the cause of the several major catastrophic declines in the bee population since the late '80s??

  4. Dan

    [sbul]: That's an inversion of the presumption of innocence. [rcj112]: They highlighted the claims which they believe didn't comport with reality, why not address that directly? Its not like they dismissed it out of hand, they indicated the *major* flaws of the study (and they are major). If this stuff is so harmful, why didn't the investigators harvest corn which had been treated with the pesticide and use the HFCS directly from that to show it?

  5. Jason

    Bayer-Monsanto's biggest threat to it's seed/crop monopoly ambitions is the bee. It is not neglect or bad science, it is intentional.

  6. DD

    We spend so much time and energy trying to protect ourselves from foreign threats while letting big agribusiness poison us from within at a hefty profit. This country is not "of the people, by the people, for the people" it's completely owned by large corporations, and that will only get worse thanks to Alito and his far right pals on the supreme court.

  7. Matthew

    Seeing as this article was written by someone who stands to lose a great deal should they decide to regulate the use of neonicotinoids, it's about as useful as a poopy flavored lollypop. Why not just write a pro-insecticide article instead? I'm sure you can get all the kids to buy your DDT laced crops. Nice try, Bayer-Monsanto.