No evidence that glyphosate alone, or in com


Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide in the world and is widely used in agriculture. While glyphosate has been deemed “safe for bees” by regulators, some emerging evidence studies suggest that it has negative effects on bees. For this reason, finding out whether glyphosate alone, or in combination with other stressors, is harmful to the health of bees, has become a matter of great importance.

A new study by authors Edward Straw and Professor Mark Brown of Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) expands current knowledge about glyphosate. He examines the impact of glyphosate on a previously untested species, the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, and incorporates a bee parasite, Crithidia bombi, which has never been tested with glyphosate before.

Using several different research methods from the field of ecotoxicology, the authors observed that there was no significant effect on bee mortality when bees were exposed to glyphosate, the bee parasite, or both. stressors together. In addition, no significant effect was observed for reproduction or consumption of sucrose.

The results provide strong evidence that oral exposure to glyphosate does not cause mortality in bumblebees. Inconclusive evidence was found as to whether glyphosate made parasitic infections more intense, but in any case, this is unlikely to be relevant at realistic concentrations for the environment.

Since research does not reveal any effect of glyphosate, the parasite, or their combination on any measure of health, the results indicate no requirement to change the regulatory status of the active ingredient glyphosate with respect to bumblebees. .

Despite the fact that the results show that glyphosate is unlikely to be harmful to bumblebees, alone or with a common parasite, previous work has shown that it can negatively impact honey bees. For this reason, the authors of the article indicate that further research on wild bee species and sublethal measurements would be useful in helping to determine whether this widely used chemical is safe for bees.

Edward Straw said: “Glyphosate is a very polarizing chemical, with scientists divided over whether or not it is safe. As such, it is important that decisions about restricting its use are made on the basis of rigorous science. Our findings are strong evidence that glyphosate alone does not cause bumblebee mortality. “

“As an incredibly important and useful pesticide, we need more evidence from a wider range of species, exposures and methodologies to determine if glyphosate is safe, so that it can be used in full confidence. Testing on the active ingredient (glyphosate) alone is not enough, as previous work has shown that other ingredients used in pesticide products can be harmful to bees.


This study is being carried out as part of the EU Horizon 2020 PoshBee research project (Grant Agreement No 773921).

Primary source:

Straw EA, Brown MJF. (2021). No evidence of effects or interactions between the widely used herbicide, glyphosate, and a common bumblebee parasite. PairJ 9: e12486

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