Government response

Bob Watson and neonicotinoids: myths busted

We will not hesitate to act if presented with any new evidence.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Current information on this topic is available on our pesticides page.

The myth: The Independent claimed that Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor Bob Watson had ordered a review of the evidence used to justify the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides to bees.

The truth: Bob Watson did not order a review of the evidence. The decline in populations of bees and other pollinators remains a major concern, and he asked to receive regular updates on new research into the possible effects on insects which are not the target species of pesticides.

This is very different to ordering a review or initiating his own inquiry.

We have considered all recently published studies and have concluded that they do not present any new evidence. The UK has a robust system for assessing risks from pesticides and all the evidence shows neonicotinoids do not pose an unacceptable risk when products are used correctly. We will not hesitate to act if presented with any new evidence.

Published 29 March 2011