News Focus

Pesticides Under Fire for Risks to Pollinators

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Science  10 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6133, pp. 674-676
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6133.674

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Citing evidence from laboratory and field studies that neonicotinoids threaten honey bees and other pollinators, the European Union is poised to ban the use of three of the most common neonicotinoids in several crops by the end of the year. Even as European regulators act, however, scientists are divided on whether pollinators are exposed to enough of the pesticides to pose a grave threat to their colonies, in part because of a paucity of data and the challenges of doing rigorous field trials. Pesticide and seed companies maintain that their products are safe when used properly. And many scientists remain unconvinced that chronic exposure to doses typically encountered in farm fields is a leading cause of pollinator declines.