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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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From bees to honey

Neonicotinoid pesticides are applied globally. Concern about their impacts has been increasing as evidence for negative effects on bee health and persistence has accumulated. Mitchell et al. looked at the prevalence of these pesticides in honey from across the world and found traces in the majority of samples tested (see the Perspective by Connolly). The neonicotinoid compounds occurred at levels considered safe for human consumption, but the contamination confirms the inundation of bees and their environments with these pesticides, despite some recent efforts to decrease their use.

Science, this issue p. 109; see also p. 38

Abstract

Growing evidence for global pollinator decline is causing concern for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services maintenance. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been identified or suspected as a key factor responsible for this decline. We assessed the global exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids by analyzing 198 honey samples from across the world. We found at least one of five tested compounds (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in 75% of all samples, 45% of samples contained two or more of these compounds, and 10% contained four or five. Our results confirm the exposure of bees to neonicotinoids in their food throughout the world. The coexistence of neonicotinoids and other pesticides may increase harm to pollinators. However, the concentrations detected are below the maximum residue level authorized for human consumption (average ± standard error for positive samples: 1.8 ± 0.56 nanograms per gram).

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