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A new way forward for risk assessment of multiple stressors in bees

For the world bee day, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a new Scientific Opinion to help protect bees from multiple stressors (Link in italiano).

This Scientific Opinion (known as MUST-B, Multiple Stressors on honey Bees) sets out an integrated, holistic framework for assessing the effects of multiple stressors on honey bees. The MUST‐B opinion proposes a systems‐based approach that combines monitoring and modelling systems for the risk assessment of multiple stressors (such as chemicals, malnutrition, parasites and diseases, climate, beekeeping management practices).

Sentinel hives would be used to monitor bee colonies in representative climatic zones and landscapes in the EU. They would be connected to a platform for data storage and analysis. Data on bee health status, chemical residues, and the immediate or broader landscape around the hives would be collected and used to inform both stakeholders and the modelling system, ApisRAM.

ApisRAM simulates as accurately as possible a honey bee colony. It would be calibrated and continuously updated with incoming monitoring data and emerging scientific knowledge from research.

This approach will support beekeeping, farming, research, risk assessment, and risk management, with benefits for the wider society. Conclusions and recommendations are provided suggesting a practical way forward for applications to broader contexts.

This work was requested by the European Parliament's Committee for the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), and was carried out by the EFSA working group chaired by Simon More and Agnes Rortais, in collaboration with EU bee experts Dr. Gerard Arnold, emeritus research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), and Simone Tosi, Assistant Professor at the University of Turin (Italy).

Bernhard Url, EFSA’s Executive Director, commented this work saying that

"This is an important report for everyone who wants to preserve Europe’s rich ecosystems, at the centre of which lie not only bees but all our insect pollinators. It sets out a clear vision for transforming the way we assess environmental risks to pollinators in the EU."

Simon More, Chair of the MUST-B working group, reported that

“We have worked hard to deliver what we believe is a forward-thinking, innovative proposal that will advance both the theory and, most importantly, the practice of environmental risk assessment. It is particularly gratifying that we have been able to do this in cooperation with major stakeholders such as beekeepers.”

Further information


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