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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Bee health: ANSES becomes European Union Reference Laboratory

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News of 01/04/2011

April 1 2011

The Sophia-Antipolis laboratory of ANSES was recently appointed as European Union Reference Laboratory for bee health by the European Commission. This newly-created mandate, the 9th European reference mandate to be entrusted to the Agency, has been assigned to the laboratory for a 5-year period.

For several years now, a phenomenon resulting in the weakening and mortality of bee colonies has been seen in many countries. The factors which may be linked to this are manifold: diseases and parasites, poisoning, stress due to disruptions in food resources, climatic conditions, etc. In order to better understand this complex situation, Europe-wide harmonisation in surveillance programmes and enhanced coordination of research initiatives is necessary.

The European risk management plan for animal health includes reference laboratories which provide scientific and technical support for the Commission and the Member States in their disease surveillance and control activities.
Within this context, the European Commission has designated ANSES's Sophia-Antipolis laboratory as the reference laboratory for bee health in a Decree published in the European Union Official Journal on 2 February 2011. The mandate takes effect on 1 April 2011, and will run for a 5-year period.

The laboratory's reference activities will be wide-ranging, covering the major bee diseases (parasitic, bacteriological and virological) as well as exotic diseases (insects and acari) which threaten the bee population. In accordance with the requirements of the Commission, the laboratory will also be asked to investigate the causes of bee colony poisoning incidents.
One of its main missions will be to provide scientific and technical support to the European Commission for the implementation of an ad hoc pilot European surveillance programme. Within the context of its reference activities, it will also be in charge of:

  • coordinating the use of bee disease diagnostic methods in the European Union,
  • improving, developing and boosting the compatibility of new diagnostic tools,
  • informing national reference laboratories about new methods and training them in their use,
  • providing technical and scientific support for the national reference laboratories and the European Commission,
  • collecting and diffusing information on endemic, emerging and exotic bee diseases,
  • performing confirmation diagnoses, additional diagnoses and, if necessary, participating in diagnostic tests during investigations,
  • if required by the Commission, performing experiments and tests in the field in order to improve control of specific bee diseases,
  • collaborating with designated laboratories in third countries and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratories on bee pathologies.

In addition to its European mandate, the Sophia-Antipolis laboratory is also a national reference laboratory (NRL) and an OIE reference laboratory for bee diseases. It is also an affiliated NRL for the analysis of pesticide residues in foodstuffs of animal origin and high-fat products, and an affiliated NRL for the analysis of pesticide residues using single residue methods.
Its research involves bee diseases (parasitic, bacterial and viral) and pathogens as well as contaminants of products of the hive and of bees. The ANSES laboratory in Sophia-Antipolis is COFRAC-accredited for the diagnosis of the four major bee diseases, for the detection of neonicotinoids in bees, beebread and pollen, as well as for the detection of acaricides in honey.

This European reference mandate is the ninth mandate assigned to ANSES of the 10 that the European Commission has entrusted to France. The Agency holds a total of 81 national, European and international reference mandates.

Find out more

> Presentation of the Sophia-Antipolis laboratory
> List of the Agency's national, European and international reference mandates
> Commission regulation (EU) No 87/2011 of 2 February 2011 designating the EU reference laboratory for bee health, laying down additional responsibilities and tasks for that laboratory and amending Annex VII to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council