Viewpoint: Experimental design flaws make it difficult to draw conclusions from 'landmark' neonicotinoid and bee studies

| | July 11, 2017

[Editor's note: Alma Laney is a research associate at Kansas State University. He has a PhD in plant science.]

By now, many people have seen the two new studies claiming harm from neonicotinoids to honeybees, one was conducted in Europe and one in Canada. There have also been several articles criticizing the work for overstepping the data and drawing unsupported conclusions. I have a few issues with these studies beyond what has already been stated....

In the European study, the researchers collected quite a few data points and took many different measurements. In total, there were 258 data points taken. Despite all of this, the researchers did not adjust for multiple measurements. From the supplemental materials and methods: "We did not apply Bonferroni corrections as the lack of independence for the majority of the response variables (e.g. different life stages of honey bee) meant that there was no valid level for the correction." This is a serious issue....

Neither paper is exceptionally well designed for an agricultural study. Each study has issues that make it hard to draw conclusions from the data due to confounding factors that were not accounted for.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Bees, Neonicotinoids, Statistics, and Viruses Oh My


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