Bee in the flower

Exposure studies to address the risk of plant protection products to pollinators such as bees may be required to demonstrate pesticide safety.

SGS has launched pollen and nectar exposure study services to meet the requirements of new guidance issued by the European Commission (EC), EFSA and EPA, to address the risk posed to pollinators, such as bees and other non-target arthropods, by plant protection product (PPP) residues in nectar, pollen and guttation water.

The focus is not only on the acute toxicity to an individual bee, but also on the bee population level, which includes hives. Bees can be adversely affected by even low levels of pesticide residue. From a toxicological perspective, triggers have been established, for pollen and nectar, which are in the ultra trace range. Exposure due to spray, furrow application of granules to soil and exposure via treated seeds/dust is assessed separately.

Meeting the EC’s PPP risk assessment requirements may trigger a variety of field tests in all the relevant geographical, cultural and climatic conditions in EU, US and Brazil.

GLP Studies

The new guidance requires the industry to conduct Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) studies to complete the assessment. Conducting GLP studies over such large geographic areas requires the support of a contract research organisation, such as SGS, who have expertise, experience and facilities across Europe, North America and Brazil. In recent years we have developed new, dedicated, GLP protocols to enable the collection of pollen and nectar from certain crops.

In all scenarios, our Europe-wide field station network adopts standard operating procedures (SOPs) and delivers harmonised content procedures. Special techniques are required to sample pollen or nectar, techniques which may vary from crop to crop. In many studies, as well as manual sampling, bees are also required to support the sampling exercise.

Collecting ultra trace level residue samples requires expertise in contaminant free working procedures and precautionary principles. Sampling studies require specific quantities of pollen and nectar to be collected in order to run the analysis. SGS’s GLP residue laboratory has validated methods for the analysis of insecticides and fungicides in pollen and nectar, as well as flowers, leaves and bees, by LC/MS/MS. The value per sample is well ahead of all other kind of samples in field research. Many of our sampling procedures are crop specific and have been developed in a joint effort with our industry partners.

Dust Drift Studies

Dust drift studies explore the amount, fraction size distribution and residue content in dust emitted during the sowing process from treated seeds, or pesticide granules applied in the row of sowing. Studies may differ depending on crop type, dose rate, and treatment recipe. All studies are relevant to the risk assessment.

Changing Opinions

The risk of adverse environmental impact from PPPs and seeding operations has long been regarded as negligible for regulatory purposes. However, the investigation of incidents regarding honey bees and data from subsequent research projects have shown that exposure, especially to dust drift, may lead to severe effects on non-target organism. The new guidance documents show how seriously regulatory authorities are taking the risk to bee populations and the food supply chain. Authorities are challenging the industry to provide a sound basis on exposure in pollen and nectar to bees in order to properly regulate current and future pesticide applications.

In The Field

SGS has extended its network for GLP and dust drift studies, as well as its pollen and nectar sampling expertise to help the agriculture industry meet the new registration requirements.

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For more information, please contact:

Céline Bousquet
GLP Study Director
SGS Agricultural Services
14 B rue Marcel Proust
21000 - Dijon - France
t: +33 (0) 3 80 71 11 34

Frédéric Lebrun
GLP Study Director
SGS Agricultural Services
7, Rue de la Minée
49620 La Pommeraye – France
t: +33 (0) 9 50 60 67 87

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 80,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,650 offices and laboratories around the world.