U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Pesticide Programs, Washington, USA
Abdulrahim T. Alkassab
Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants
Institute for Bee Protection, Braunschweig, Germany.
The Working Group on Microbials and Bees was formed in 2017 to address the unique issues around microbial pesticide hazard testing on bees. Microbial pesticides present challenges that are not encountered in testing with conventional pesticides, including the need to assess the toxicity, pathogenicity, and infectivity of microbes and how such microbes may interact with the natural flora/fauna associated with bees. Current test guidelines/guidance rely on methods developed for chemical pesticides, which may not address these challenges. The Working Group on Microbials and Bees recently completed an overview paper to outline the challenges with testing microbial pesticides on bees, with a goal of starting discussions around these issues.
The Working Group includes members from government organisations involved in policy development and regulation of microbial pesticides and/or tasked with protecting bees and other pollinators, research institutions focused on improvements to testing and/or bee health, contract research organisations that perform testing with microbial pesticides and bees, and the regulated community tasked with providing data to meet regulatory testing requirements.
In the future, the group anticipates next steps to involve development of guidance and improved or new guidelines to assist laboratories performing these tests, which will increase their consistency and accuracy.