New research from EU: Ecosystem services, agriculture & neonicotinoids

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  1. Ecosystem services provide significant economic benefits to agriculture. Maintaining strong functional ecosystem services is a critical part of a sustainable agriculturalsystem.

  2. Biodiversity has significant positive impacts on
    the provision of ecosystem services but is also an objective in its own right under global and European international agreements.

  3. Insects providing ecosystem services have shown major declines in recent decades (pollinating wild bees, natural pest control providers, etc.).

  4. Protecting honey bees is not sufficient to protect pollination services and other ecosystem services. Honey bees have been the main focus in assessing the risks from neonicotinoid use, and much debate has focused on whether honey bee colonies are being affected. Yet the honey bee colony structure provides an exceptionally resilient buffer against losses of its foragers and workers. In contrast, bumble bees have just a few hundred workers at most while solitary bees and other insects have no such buffering capacity.

    5. There is an increasing body of evidence that the widespread prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has severe negative effects on non-target organisms that provide ecosystem services including pollination and natural pest control.

    6. There is clear scientific evidence for sublethal effects of very low levels of neonicotinoids over extended periods on non-target beneficial organisms. This should be addressed in EU approval procedures.

    7. Current practice of prophylactic usage of neonicotinoids is inconsistent with the basic principles of integrated pest management as expressed in the EU’s Sustainable Pesticides Directive.

    8. Widespread use of neonicotinoids (as well as other pesticides) constrains the potential for restoring biodiversity in farmland under the EU’s Agri- environment Regulation.