The precautionary principle at work: The case of neonicotinoids and the health of bees

Patterson, Alan and McLean, Craig (2019) The precautionary principle at work: The case of neonicotinoids and the health of bees. Science and Public Policy, 46 (3). pp. 441-449. ISSN 0302-3427

scy072.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (223kB) | Preview
Official URL:


In recent years, scientists have noted a decline in the health of bee populations. Whereas a whole host of possible causes have been identified, it is the use of pesticides in agriculture—specifically the use of neonicotinoids—that has warranted some investigation. The scientific evidence of their impact on the health of bees remains debated. This article examines how the UK Government has responded to the decline in bee populations and the apparent link to neonicotinoids. While notionally committed to deploying the Precautionary Principle in such instances, the government has tended to err more on ‘sound science’ as a policymaking tool. Early evidence indicates that the government used the latter initially but has become more amenable to utilising a precautionary approach recently. Whether this can be attributed to an embrace of the Precautionary Principle, or simply a change caused by the installation of a new Secretary of State for the Environment, is open to interpretation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bee health, Government regulation, Precautionary principle
Subjects: L400 Social Policy
L500 Social Work
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 11:35
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 10:19

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics