Dietary traces of neonicotinoid pesticides as a cause of population declines in honey bees: an evaluation by Hill's epidemiological criteria
Version of Record online: 4 APR 2012
Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry
Pest Management Science
Volume 68, Issue 6, pages 819–827, June 2012
How to Cite
Cresswell, J. E., Desneux, N. and vanEngelsdorp, D. (2012), Dietary traces of neonicotinoid pesticides as a cause of population declines in honey bees: an evaluation by Hill's epidemiological criteria. Pest. Manag. Sci., 68: 819–827. doi: 10.1002/ps.3290
- Issue online: 10 MAY 2012
- Version of Record online: 4 APR 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 24 JAN 2012 10:07AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 JAN 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 16 DEC 2011
- Manuscript Received: 5 JUL 2011
BACKGROUND: Honey bees are important pollinators of both crops and wild plants. Pesticide regimes that threaten their sustainability should therefore be assessed. As an example, evidence that the agricultural use of neonicotinoid pesticides is a cause of the recently observed declines in honey bees is examined. The aim is to define exacting demographic conditions for a detrimental factor to precipitate a population decline, and Hill's epidemiological ‘causality criteria’ are employed as a structured process for making an expert judgement about the proposition that trace dietary neonicotinoids in nectar and pollen cause population declines in honey bees.
RESULTS: In spite of the absence of decisive experimental results, the analysis shows that, while the proposition is a substantially justified conjecture in the context of current knowledge, it is also substantially contraindicated by a wide variety of circumstantial epidemiological evidence.
CONCLUSION:It is concluded that dietary neonicotinoids cannot be implicated in honey bee declines, but this position is provisional because important gaps remain in current knowledge. Avenues for further investigations to resolve this longstanding uncertainty are therefore identified. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry