Scientific Background

Webcast of the debate session held on Friday 24 January 2014 is now available online.

View webcast.

The winner of the joint poster prize was Léa Tison (Institut für Biologie-Neurobiologie Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), for her poster B14.37 entitled 'A sublethal dose of the neonicotinoid thiacloprid may affect social communication and foraging behavior in honeybees'.

Meeting background
The Biochemical Society, the Society for Experimental Biology and the British Ecological Society are delighted to announce their third joint scientific conference. 

An important challenge facing the future of humanity is food security. This resource is heavily supported by the actions of insect pollinators and attacked by insect crop pests. Agrochemical intensification has reduced the amount of natural forage and breeding/nesting sites for insects and simultaneously providing large bonanzas in the form crops. Therefore, it is currently necessary to fight the battle against pest species using insecticides. This approach is a double-edged sword with both insect pests and pollinators being vulnerable. This conference will discuss whether the key insecticides being used in this battle have an overall negative impact on bees, and so food security.

The conference will focus on the scientific evidence on the risks of the cholinergic pesticides, in particular the neonicotinoids, to both honeybees and bumblebees. Evidence will be presented from research laboratories from academia, government and industry to discuss the current scientific evidence, knowledge gaps and future directions.

 The following aspects of this issue will be addressed:

  • Environmental levels of neonicotinoids
  • The basic receptor biology of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and how these influence neuronal and brain function
  • Individual acute bee toxicity and chronic dysfunction in bee learning
  • Whole colony performance of bees
  • Field studies on the need and safety of neonicotinoids on bees
  • Additive and synergistic interactions between pesticides and disease
  • Bee detoxification pathways

 This conference will have great international interest for scientists, politicians, environmental campaigning organizations and the media. Additional opportunities for short talks (selected from the abstracts) and posters will be available and early career researchers are encouraged to submit abstracts. To maximise the impact of this symposium, an open scientific discussion will follow the talks and precede an opportunity for the media and stakeholders to ask questions of the scientific audience in order that the science can directly inform the media and policy.

Programme Committee

Dr Christopher N Connolly (University of Dundee, UK)
Dr Geraldine A Wright (Newcastle University, UK)


Continuing Professional Development

Approved by the Society of Biology for the purpose of CPD, this event may be counted as 54 CPD credits. These points are valid if attendees are registered on the Society of Biology CPD scheme.  Approval signifies that the Society of Biology recognizes the meeting is of merit to the development needs of participants. Attendees can request a CPD certificate for this conference whilst completing the post event feedback questionnaire, which will be sent by email to all attendees shortly after the meeting.



22-24 January 2014
Charles Darwin House


Abstract Deadline

26 November 2013

Early Registration Deadline

16 December 2013