Overview of the testing and assessment of effects of microbial pesticides on bees : strengths, challenges and perspectives

Borges, Shannon; Alkassab, Abdulrahim T.; Collison, Elizabeth; Hinarejos, Silvia; Jones, Ben; McVey, Emily; Roessink, Ivo; Steeger, Thomas; Sultan, Maryam; Wassenberg, Jacoba


Currently, there is a growing interest in developing biopesticides and increasing their share in the plant protection market as sustainable tools in integrated pest management (IPM). Therefore, it is important that regulatory requirements are consistent and thorough in consideration of biopesticides’ unique properties. While microbial pesticides generally have a lower risk profile, they present special challenges in non-target organism testing and risk assessment since, in contrast to chemical pesticides, their modes of action include infectivity and pathogenicity rather than toxicity alone. For this reason, non-target organism testing guidelines designed for conventional chemical pesticides are not necessarily directly applicable to microbial pesticides. Many stakeholders have recognised the need for improvements in the guidance available for testing microbial pesticides with honey bees, particularly given the increasing interest in development and registration of microbial pesticides and concerns over risks to pollinators. This paper provides an overview of the challenges with testing and assessment of the effects of microbial pesticides on honey bees (Apis mellifera), which have served as a surrogate for both Apis and non-Apis bees, and provides a foundation toward developing improved testing methods.