A worldwide survey of neonicotinoids in honey

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Science  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6359, pp. 109-111
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3684

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  • Answer to the comment from Gary Fish on our paper “A worldwide survey of neonicotinoids in honey”
    • Edward A. D. Mitchell, Professor, Laboratory of Soil Biodiversity, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    • Other Contributors:
      • Gaëtan Glauser, Head of the Neuchâtel Platform for Analytical Chemistry, Neuchâtel Platform of Analytical Chemistry, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
      • Matthieu Mulot, Post-doctoral researcher, Lab. Soil Biodiversity, Univ. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, now at Univ. Pierre & Marie Curie, Roscoff Biologial Station, France
      • Alexandre Aebi, Lecturer, Laboratory of Soil Biodiversity & Anthropology Institute University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

    Gary Fish commented on our paper “A worldwide survey of neonicotinoids
    in honey” (1). In his comment, Fish considers it misleading that we state that 48% of the analysed samples exceeded a threshold corresponding to the lowest concentration for which a significant negative effect of bees was found in experimental studies as we also list studies that tested the effects of higher concentrations. Also, we mention that the specific effect observed for 0.1ng/g on vitellogenin “may cause effects on foraging activity”. Fish wonders how this can be included. Here we provide an answer to his comments.

    We disagree that this is misleading in any way. Table S8 of our study (1) summarises some studies showing effects of neonicotinoids on bees and other insects. It gives a broad overview of the ways in which neonicotinoids affect insects at sublethal doses. Many studies indeed used higher concentrations than 0.1 ng/g, but as data accumulated on this topic, it became increasingly clear that lower concentrations also had an effect on bees and other non-target organisms and more studies started to focus on these lower concentrations. Christen et al. (2) studied the molecular effects of neonicotinoids, a topic that has not received much attention so far. They indeed state that theirs is the first study on the molecular effects on key neuronal processes in the brain of honey bees exposed to nicotine compared to neonicotinoids. Such studies are essential as this is how other impa...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Comments about Table S8
    • Gary Fish, Director of the State of Maine Apiary Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

    In table S8 you show the studies that have indicated statistically significant effects on pollinators and then say that 48% of your samples were over the minimal concentration for which a significant effect was observed in ng/g and 74% in ng/ml. As I look at these studies it appears the preponderance of effects occur between 1 - 2 ng/g. Seems misleading to include the above comments. Also see studies listed that say they "may" cause effects. How can these be included? I am very surprised that this study was published in Science.

    Competing Interests: None declared.