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«TECHNICAL REPORT Inventory of EFSA’s activities on bees1 European Food Safety Authority2, 3 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy ...»

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EFSA inventory on bees


Inventory of EFSA’s activities on bees1

European Food Safety Authority2, 3

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy


The inventory presented in this report describes the past and current scientific activities of EFSA addressing

directly or indirectly bee risk assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring. To perform this work, the Emerging Risks Unit coordinated an internal Task Force including staff from the Pesticides, Animal Health and Welfare, Genetically Modified Organisms, Plant Health, Scientific Assistance Support and Emerging Risks Units and from the Communications Directorate. Up to September 2012, a total of 355 scientific outputs (published/unpublished yet: 344/11), and a number of news stories and a video on bees, were identified from the Pesticides (311/7), Animal Health and Welfare (0/1), Genetically Modified Organisms (29/0) and the Plant Health (2/0) Units and Panels and from the Scientific Assistance Support (2/1) and the Emerging Risks (0/2) Units. However, the majority of these outputs (89.6%) were conclusions on the peer review of pesticide active substances and opinions on applications for the approval of regulated genetically modified products. Among the 355 identified scientific outputs, 14 outputs (0.4%) focused on bees and were predominantly in the areas of pesticide risk assessment and monitoring. In addition, three external scientific activities between EFSA, Anses and OECD on bee issues were identified. The first EFSA scientific outputs on bee issues were published in 2004 and their number has increased progressively over time, but particularly after 2008 (23% published between 2004-2007 and 77% between 2008-2012). The Task Force will use this inventory to conduct a data gap analysis and make further recommendations in terms of research needs and future work at EFSA on bees in a second report.

© European Food Safety Authority, 2012


Animal and plant health, bee, genetically modified organisms, inventory, monitoring, pesticides, risk assessment.

On request from EFSA, Question No EFSA-Q-2012-00530, approved on 30 October 2012.

Correspondence: emrisk@efsa.europa.eu Acknowledgement: EFSA wishes to thank EFSA Bee Task force: Agnès Rortais (EMRISK), Domenica Auteri (Pesticides), Stephanie Bopp (Pesticides), Sandra Correia (AHAW), Yann Devos (GMO), ), Jean-Lou Dorne (EMRISK), Sylvie Mestdagh (GMO), Jane Richardson (SAS), Tobin Robinson (EMRISK), Laura Smillie (COMMS), Franz Streissl (Pesticides), Csaba Szentes (Pesticides), Simon Terry (COMMS), Frank Verdonck (AHAW) and Sybren Vos (PLH) for the support provided to this output.

Suggestedcitation: European Food Safety Authority; Inventory of EFSA‟s activities on bees. Supporting Publications 2012:EN-358. [89 pp.]. Available online: www.efsa.europa.eu/publications

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The Emerging Risks Unit (EMRISK) was requested by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), to set up and coordinate an internal Task Force (TF) to collect, collate and analyse data related to bee risk assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring. The TF was requested to make an inventory of EFSA‟s outputs and activities on bees. This work will serve as a basis for further analysis during the second term of the TF mandate. In particular, potential cross-cutting areas, data gaps and appropriate research needs in bee risk assessment will be identified.

The TF comprises members of five scientific Units from the Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Directorate – Pesticides (PRAS), Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW), Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), Plant Health (PLH), Scientific Assessment Support (SAS) – as well as members of the Emerging Risks (EMRISK) Unit from the Science Strategy Directorate and members from the Communications Directorate (COMMS).

For each Unit, all scientific outputs (both published and not yet published) related directly or indirectly to bee risk assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring were collected and listed by output category as defined by EFSA (i.e. “opinions of Scientific Committee/Panel‟; “other scientific outputs” and “supporting publications”). In addition, external scientific activities of EFSA staff with stakeholders involved in bee risk assessment as well as EFSA‟s communications on its scientific work and progress on bees were recorded.

For each output, the following information was described: title, abstract, objectives and outcomes, conclusions and recommendations, and in-house collaborations. In addition, for each Unit, an overview table was produced and presented in Appendices to provide information which can be found in the published outputs and/or in the Register of Questions4 of the EFSA website: subject, keywords, mandate number, question number or project number, starting date, publication date (or deadline for publication in the case of ongoing projects and non yet published outputs), URL to publication, legislation related to the subject matter of the output, and the reference to the publication.

Up to September 2012, a total of 355 scientific outputs were identified of which 344 were already published. Among the published outputs (n=344), the PRAS Unit and PPR Panel, the GMO and PLH Units and Panels and the SAS Unit produced 311, 29, 2 and 2 reports, respectively. Among the non yet published outputs (n=11), the PRAS Unit and PPR Panel, the AHAW Unit and Panel, and the SAS and EMRISK Units are expected to produce 7, 1, 1 and 2 reports, respectively. The majority of the identified outputs (89.6%) were conclusions on the peer review of pesticide active substances (n=306) and opinions on applications for approval of regulated products for authorisations of GMOs (n=12).

Among the remaining outputs, 14 (0.04%; 6 published by 20.09.2012) focused on bee issues, predominantly in the area of pesticide risk assessment and monitoring.

Finally, in addition to the above scientific outputs, COMMS published a number of news/press stories and a video to communicate on the recent work coordinated by EMRISK, PRAS and SAS Units. An overview of the scientific outputs over time showed that the first publications involving partly bee risk assessment dealt with conclusions of pesticides peer review, and were issued as early as 2004. In contrast, most of the outputs focused on bees were issued in 2012, and involved the PPR Panel and PRAS Unit. The same trend was observed for media releases produced by COMMS.

A few of EFSA‟s external activities with stakeholders such as Anses and OECD were identified. The EMRISK Unit collaborated with Anses in the first half of 2012 on the assessment of interactions between pesticides and bee diseases, and the PRAS Unit is currently collaborating with OECD on various aspects of bee risk assessment and bee monitoring such as pollinator incidence, testing methods, risk mitigation and communication on bee research.


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The number of scientific areas covered and the number of EFSA Units/Panels involved in bee issues mirrors the multidisciplinary nature of this topic, and demonstrates the breadth of the internal expertise available in this area at EFSA. It also reflects the growing attention on this subject from the scientific community, risk managers and the public. However, to be effective and to make the best use of its limited resources, EFSA needs to integrate its work on bees and expand its activities with stakeholders and other EU bodies involved in bee risk assessment.

In line with the terms of reference (ToR) of the present EFSA mandate, the TF recommends to conduct a scientific assessment of the information presented in this report, in particular to analyse the conclusions and recommendations made for each output to identify potential gaps of knowledge and, where appropriate, to make further recommendations. The TF will perform this analysis in the second term of its mandate interacting with the respective Panels.

With its mandate to improve EU food safety and to ensure a high level of protection of consumers and the environment, the protection of non-target organisms (NTOs) and the ecosystem services they provide is a key activity of EFSA‟s remit. The TF recognises that besides bees and pollination services, other NTOs contribute to important valued ecosystem services (e.g. pest regulation, decomposition and soil nutrient cycling, water regulation and purification), within an agricultural context and therefore measures aimed at assisting their preservation may benefit from a wider integrated risk assessment approach across EFSA too.

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Table of contents

Background as provided by EFSA

Terms of reference as provided by EFSA


1. Introduction

2. Material and methods

3. Results

3.1. Pesticides Unit (PRAS) and Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR). 11 3.1.1. Scientific Opinions

3.1.2. Other scientific outputs

3.1.3. Supporting publications

3.2. Animal Health and Welfare Unit and Panel (AHAW)

3.2.1. Scientific Opinion

3.3. Genetically Modified Organisms Unit and Panel (GMO)

3.3.1. GM plant market registration applications: Scientific Opinions

3.3.2. Guidelines for the safety assessment of GM plants: Scientific Opinions

3.3.3. Guidelines and scientific opinions related to post-market environmental monitoring of GM plants: Guidance Scientific Opinions

3.3.4. National safeguard clause measures Scientific Opinions

3.3.5. Fauna database project Supporting publications

3.4. Plant Health Unit and Panel (PLH)

3.4.1. Scientific Opinions

3.5. Scientific Assessment Support Unit (SAS)

3.5.1. Supporting publications

3.6. Emerging Risks Unit (EMRISK)

3.6.1. Supporting publications

3.7. EFSA communication on bee issues with stakeholders

3.7.1. EFSA and Anses

3.7.2. EFSA and OECD

3.8. Number and type of outputs

3.9. Publication of outputs over time

3.10. In-house collaborations and relations with stakeholders

Conclusions and recommendations



A. Inventory of scientific outputs from the PRAS Unit and PPR Panel

B. Inventory of scientific outputs from the AHAW Unit and Panel

C. Inventory of scientific outputs from the GMO Unit and Panel

D. Inventory of scientific outputs from the PLH Unit and Panel

E. Inventory of scientific outputs from the SAS Unit

F. Inventory of scientific outputs from the EMRISK Unit

G. Inventory of stories on bees from the COMMS Directorate


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Given the significant work already carried out by EFSA in the area of bee risk assessment (i.e. impact on bee health and bee services), the consensus reached by scientists on the multifactorial origin of bee colony losses and the increasing body of scientific evidence showing the way factors may interact to affect bees, it is timely to coordinate work on the risks posed to bees and the services they provide to humans in a more integrated and multidisciplinary manner. In particular, cross-cutting issues, gaps of knowledge, research needs and recommendations need to be identified to reinforce the protection of bees and their ecosystem services.

Bees in general (Apis and non-Apis bees), but predominantly honey bees, play an important role in the pollination of a wide range of crops and wild plants. The production of about 80% of the 264 crop species cultivated in the EU depends directly on insect pollinators, mostly bees (Williams, 1994) and the global annual monetary value of pollination is estimated to be many hundreds of billions of dollars (MEA, 2005). In addition to pollination services, bees contribute to other ecosystem services such as – to cite the most important - food (i.e. honey, pollen, larvae in some countries, wax for food processing, propolis in food technology, royal jelly as a dietary supplement and ingredient in food) several derived-hive products for various human use (see Krell, 1996 for a comprehensive description), genetic resources (i.e. biodiversity) and cultural services (i.e. education, recreation and aesthetic values) which contribute to human welfare and wellbeing.

Given the importance of bees in the ecosystem and the food chain and given the multiple services they provide to humans, their protection is essential. With its mandate to improve EU food safety and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has the responsibility to protect bees and the ecosystem services they provide to humans and this is currently achieved through the activity of the Pesticides Unit (PRAS), the Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) and GMO Units.

The Pesticides Unit has recently been requested to assess the APENET (2011) project on honey bee mortality and colony losses in Italy5. In 2011, the PRAS Unit was requested to deliver a scientific opinion on the science behind the development of a risk assessment of plant protection products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp. and solitary bees) to be published in April 2012. This work will serve as a basis for the drafting of a Guidance document on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees in the course of 2012. The PRAS Unit has also launched a procurement on literature reviews on topics of relevance to the revision of the Guidance Documents on Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecotoxicology. In respect to bees, an overview of available scientific information on interactions between pesticides and other factors was requested and was published in September 2012. The EMRISK Unit is involved in several of the projects led by Pesticides to provide scientific support on the risk assessment of bees.

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