The introduction of the first neonicotinoid seed treatments in 1994 seemed like the start of a new era in crop protection; targeted use of a highly-effective pesticide with limited impact on the environment or beneficial insects.“With hindsight, reliance on the use of one class of insecticides, rather than a greater integrated approach, has led to a renewed threat from Virus Yellows,” says Professor Mark Stevens, lead scientist for the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).Such is the urgent need for progress that the BBRO, SESVanderHave and MariboHilleshög are concluding a five-year, £1.13 million collaboration project, part-funded by government agency Innovate UK to expedite the development virus-resistant varieties.Efforts by breeders to identify major sources of resistance have, so far, proved unsuccessful, though several minor genes have now been mapped and are being introgressed into elite varieties.Genetic solutions are central to coping with Virus Yellows, but will need to be integrated with other tactics in a greater holistic approach, says Ian Munnery, Managing Director of SESVanderHave UK:.“The project has also demonstrated the potential for science to deliver genetic solutions, we can only hope that this recognition will support the adoption of a science-based approach to future breeding methods and regulation.”. .
Battle lines drawn over GM sugar beets
In January, farmers, food safety advocates, and conservation groups filed suit in federal court challenging the deregulation of genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).Attorneys from the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice are representing plaintiffs Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Center for Food Safety in the lawsuit, which seeks a thorough assessment of environmental, health, and associated economic impacts of the deregulation as required by federal law.Last year, one of the court’s judges, Charles Breyer, issued an injunction blocking sales of Roundup Ready alfalfa seeds and ordered the US Department of Agriculture to conduct an environmental impact study of the crop.Contamination also reduces the ability of conventional farmers to decide what to grow, and limits consumer choice of natural foods.“As a consumer, I’m very concerned about genetically-engineered sugar making its way into the products I eat, as well as genetic contamination of conventional and organically grown varieties of table beets and chard,” said the Sierra Club’s Neil Carman.GM sugar beets could also cause problems for companies exporting food products to Europe, says Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology.“The law requires the government to take a hard look at the impact that deregulating Roundup Ready sugar beets will have on human health, agriculture and the environment,” said Greg Loarie of Earthjustice.“The government cannot simply ignore the fact that deregulation will harm organic farmers and consumers, and exacerbate the growing epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds.”.These herbicide-resistant weeds have spread rapidly over the past seven years, and experts agree that their proliferation is directly linked to the introduction of Roundup Ready crops, including soybeans, cotton and corn.Today, marestail, common and giant ragweed, waterhemp, and Palmer pigweed are weeds with confirmed resistance to glyphosate. .
Identification and evaluation of risk of generalizability biases in pilot
These articles raise important considerations in the conduct and reporting of pilot studies, and decision processes regarding whether or not to proceed with a large-scale, efficacy/effectiveness trial, yet they focus largely on topics related to threats to internal validity that may ensue.Biases relevant to internal validity, such as whether blinding or randomization were used, rates of attrition, and the selective reporting of outcomes  are important considerations when designing an intervention trial or evaluating published studies.In contrast, external validity refers to the variations in the conditions (e.g., target audience, setting) under which the intervention would exhibit the same or similar impact on the outcome(s) of interest .Thus, if the purpose of conducting pilot studies is to “inform decisions about whether further testing [of an intervention] is warranted ”, it is then reasonable to expect a great deal of emphasis would be placed on aspects of external validity, particularly when determining if a larger-scale trial is necessary.There is a history of studies that have evaluated the same (or very similar) interventions yet produce different outcomes when conducted under efficacy or effectiveness conditions, a phenomenon referred to as “voltage drop” [20,21,22,23].These elements are consistent within implementation frameworks [20,21,22, 54,55,56,57,58], which describe the need to consider the authenticity of delivery, the representativeness of the sample and settings, and the feasibility of delivering the intervention as key components in translating research findings into practice.Discussions surrounding their importance, however, predominately focus on the middle to end of the translational pipeline continuum, largely ignoring the relevance of these issues during the early stages of developing and evaluating interventions in pilot studies.Hence, optimal conditions  may introduce external validity biases that could have a substantial impact on the early, pilot results and interpretation of whether an intervention should be tested in a larger trial [20,21,22, 55, 62].Drawing from the scalability literature and incorporating key concepts of existing reporting guidelines, such as TIDieR , CONSORT , TREND , SPIRIT , and PRECIS-2 [51, 52] we describe the development of an initial set of risk of generalizability biases and provide empirical evidence regarding their influence on study level effects in a sample of published pilot studies that are paired for comparison with a published larger-scale efficacy/effectiveness trial of the same or similar intervention on a topic related to childhood obesity. .
'Bee-killing' pesticide now will not be used on UK sugar beet fields
While there is a growing awareness of the harmful role played by refined sugar in the development of long-term health problems, the homegrown industry in the UK remains highly profitable.But there is mounting concern over the effect of harmful pesticides on pollinators at a time of serious insect decline and local ecosystems, particularly as the chemicals can run into rivers, amid a lack of safeguards over their use.Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said the evidence of the risk neonicotinoids posed to pollinators was continuing to mount and that this should be the government’s “last dalliance with these bee-killing chemicals”.Defra said it had attached strict conditions to the authorisation meaning that the pesticide could only be used if modelling forecast that the level of virus infection would reach 9% across the national crop. .
Emergency pesticide authorisation to protect sugar beet crops
The emergency authorisation was granted subject to strict conditions including an initial threshold for use, to ensure the seed treatment is used only if the predicted virus incidence is at or above 19% of the national crop according to independent modelling.12 EU countries - with significant sugar production - including France, Belgium, Denmark and Spain have granted emergency authorisations in the last three years for neonicotinoid seed treatments following the EU-wide ban - backed by the UK – coming into force. .
UK charities condemn 'betrayal' of allowing bee-killing pesticide in
Sandra Bell, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Allowing a bee-harming pesticide back into our fields is totally at odds with ministers’ so-called green ambitions, not to mention directly against the recommendation of their own scientists.Stephanie Morren, senior policy officer for the RSPB, said: “As we tackle the nature and climate emergency on our doorsteps we need decision-makers to support our farmers in delivering sustainable farming.The exemption for Cruiser SB was also granted in 2021 but was not needed by sugar beet farmers because modelling indicated that the yellows virus carried by aphids would pose no threat.“We continue to progress our plans to tackle virus yellows without the need for neonicotinoids in future years, such as through grower practices and seed breeding programmes.”. .