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Study shows neonicotinoids can harm bees
Researchers exposed bees to winter-sown oilseed rape that had been treated with two different neonicotinoids.
Researchers assess effect of the pesticides across Europe

The largest study so far on neonicotinoid pesticides has concluded that they do cause harm to some species of bee.

Published in Science, the study found that neonicotinoids reduce the capacity of honeybees and wild bees to establish new populations in the year following exposure.

The effects of the pesticides were assessed across Hungary, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Speaking to BBC News, study author Professor Richard Pywell stated that the findings are cause for serious concern.

"We've shown for the first time negative effects of neonicotinoid-coated seed dressings on honeybees and we've also shown similar negative effects on wild bees,” he said.

"This is important because many crops globally are insect pollinated and without pollinators, we would struggle to produce some foods."

In the study, researchers exposed bees to winter-sown oilseed rape that had been treated with two different neonicotinoids - clothianidin and thiamethoxam - in addition to untreated oilseed rape.

For honeybees, the researchers found both negative and positive effects during crop flowering. In Hungary, negative effects on honey bees persisted over winter and resulted in smaller colonies the following spring. In wild bees, reproduction was negatively correlated with neonicotinoid residues.

Neonicotinoid producer Bayer, which part-funded the study, said in a press release that the findings were ‘inclusive’ and that it remained convinced that neonicotinoids have no short or long-term negative effect on bees.

Dr Richard Schmuck, director of environmental science at Bayer said: “We do not share the CEH’s interpretation that adverse effects of the seed treatments can be concluded from this study, and remain confident that neonicotinoids are safe when used and applied responsibly.”

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.