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USDA Awards $4.1 Million to Study Colony Collapse Disorder

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2008 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced today that more than $4 million will be awarded to the University of Georgia to study the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and other diseases affecting bee populations, whose pollination is valued at $15 billion annually to U.S. agriculture.

"Bees are an extremely valuable contributor to the overall productivity of American agriculture, but invasive pests, diseases and environmental stresses are putting U.S. bees at serious risk," Schafer said. "This research will help beekeepers meet the pollination demand for the nation's food supply."

The Protection of Managed Bees Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), funded through a 4-year grant from USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), aims to improve the health of managed bee populations in agricultural systems. The research will address genomics, breeding, pathology, immunology and applied ecology to explain the causes behind dwindling bee populations. Researchers will work closely with the extension community and other stakeholders to develop and implement mitigation strategies for CCD and other significant problems.

CCD became a matter of concern in the winter of 2006-2007 when an estimated 25 percent of the beekeepers in the United States reported major losses of adult bees from their hives.

CAP projects combine significant funding over time and across institutions to support discovery and applications, and promote communication leading to innovative science-based solutions to critical and emerging national priorities and needs. These integrated projects focus not only on research to solve critical issues, but also feature education and extension components that bring knowledge gained through research to citizens at the local level. The project will complement and/or link with existing programs and projects at the national level.

CSREES committed $1.7 million to honeybees and pollinator research in Fiscal Year 2007. National program leaders at USDA's Agricultural Research Service and CSREES developed an action plan for CCD, which is a long-term plan for research, extension and educational activities that are recommended to address this important problem. Background information about CCD and the action plan is available at www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd.

CSREES funded this CAP project under the National Research Initiative. Dr. Mary Purcell-Miramontes, national program leader for arthropod and nematode biology, developed this new CAP project and will be coordinating this new funding opportunity.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

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