In DepthEnvironmental Science

European bee study fuels debate over pesticide ban

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Science  30 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1321
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6345.1321

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Europe's largest field trial of controversial insecticides called neonicotinoids has delivered a split verdict on the danger they pose to bees. The £2.8 million study in the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Germany provides the first real-world demonstration that agricultural use of these common pesticides can hurt both domesticated honey bees and wild bees. But on German farms, the honey bees did just fine, suggesting that some colonies can weather the toxicity, perhaps because they were generally healthier and could feed on a greater diversity of wildflowers. The mixed findings are likely to intensify ongoing debates about restricting or banning the compounds, with both sides claiming vindication.