Neonicotinoid seed treatments are of little or no benefit in U.S. soybean production, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are widely held concerns that neonicotinoid pesticides may have an adverse impact on bees and the EPA is currently reviewing their use. The agency said that it is required by law to consider the benefits of using pesticides as well as the risks.

Its assessment looked at the effectiveness of neonicotinoid seed treatments for pest control and estimated the impacts on crop yields and quality, as well as financial losses and gains.

After examining neonicotinoid usage for insect control in soybeans, the EPA concluded that little or no increase in soybean yield is seen when using most neonicotinoid seed treatments when compared to using no pest control at all. The agency also highlighted the fact that many scientific publications claim that treating soybean seeds has little value.

The EPA pointed out that alternative insecticides applied as sprays are available and effective, and all major alternatives are comparable in cost. It noted that neonicotinoid seed treatment could provide an insurance benefit against sporadic and unpredictable insect pests, but argued that this potential benefit is not likely to be large or widespread across the United States.

This analysis will be used by the EPA in its assessment of the risks and benefits under registration review for the neonicotinoid pesticides.