Quantitative weight of evidence assessment of higher-tier studies on the toxicity and risks of neonicotinoid insecticides in honeybees 1: Methods
A quantitative weight of evidence (QWoE) methodology was developed and used to assess many higher-tier studies on the effects of three neonicotinoid insecticides: clothianidin (CTD), imidacloprid (IMI), and thiamethoxam (TMX) on honeybees. A general problem formulation, a conceptual model for exposures of honeybees, and an analysis plan were developed. A QWoE methodology was used to characterize the quality of the available studies from the literature and unpublished reports of studies conducted by or for the registrants. These higher-tier studies focused on the exposures of honeybees to neonicotinoids via several matrices as measured in the field as well as the effects in experimentally controlled field studies. Reports provided by Bayer Crop Protection and Syngenta Crop Protection and papers from the open literature were assessed in detail, using predefined criteria for quality and relevance to develop scores (on a relative scale of 0–4) to separate the higher-quality from lower-quality studies and those relevant from less-relevant results. The scores from the QWoEs were summarized graphically to illustrate the overall quality of the studies and their relevance. Through mean and standard errors, this method provided graphical and numerical indications of the quality and relevance of the responses observed in the studies and the uncertainty associated with these two metrics. All analyses were conducted transparently and the derivations of the scores were fully documented. The results of these analyses are presented in three companion papers and the QWoE analyses for each insecticide are presented in detailed supplemental information (SI) in these papers.