The Road to Pollinator Health

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Science  16 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6147, pp. 695
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244271

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Agricultural production is a balancing act. On one side is sustainable production of food and biobased products for a growing population. On the other is protecting our natural resources and the environment. The global decline of the honey bee, a major domestic pollinator of many crops, exemplifies how complex the factors are that contribute to maintaining this balance. Overall bee colony decline, including loss from colony collapse disorder (CCD), poses a serious challenge to agricultural research worldwide. The causes are still not definitive, but stress from pesticides may be a factor. This spring, the European Commission temporarily restricted the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides for specific applications (pending more research). Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formed a bee health task force to take an even broader look at the pollinator crisis, with a plan to collect interagency input and develop a federal Pollinator Roadmap before the end of 2013.