Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Use and Effects in African Agriculture - A Review and Recommendations to Policymakers

Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) (2019)

Cite: Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), (2019). Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Use and Effects in African Agriculture - A Review and Recommendations to Policymakers. [Online] Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11911/131

Policymakers’ booklet

Agriculture is critically important for African societies and economies, but ensuring food security for Africa’s growing population is a major challenge due to climate change, structural changes in land use and management, and intensification of agriculture, including the use of pesticides. A synergistic relationship between agriculture and the beneficial services offered by nature (such as pollination and natural pest control) is a foundation of sustainable agriculture on which future food security depends. Such ‘ecosystem services’ are provided mainly (although not exclusively) by invertebrates, and the rapid decline in biodiversity in general and insects in particular globally has implications for productivity and future food security. Beneficial insects increase agricultural productivity and the quality of crops and are as (if not more) important in the African context than the rest of the world. One factor that has been shown to contribute to loss of ecosystem services in Europe and elsewhere is the increased use of a class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, which act as insect neurotoxins. They are taken up by all parts of the plant, are water soluble and can thus spread in the environment, exposing not only the target pests but also beneficial insects ranging from honey bees and other pollinating insects to natural predators of the targeted pests. As a result, the use of some of these insecticides has been restricted in the European Union (EU) and some other countries. The debate preceding the EU restrictions was informed by a study on the impact of neonicotinoids on agriculture and ecosystem services by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC). Building on this foundation, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) collaborated in a study to examine the implications of neonicotinoid insecticide use for ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture in Africa. The study was conducted between October 2018 and October 2019 and involved two workshops with scientists from 17 African countries as well as an extensive review of relevant African research. This project has collated an unprecedented amount of information, allowing the current situation relating to neonicotinoids in Africa to be assessed for the first time. The findings have been subjected to peer review and endorsed by NASAC member academies.