The head of USDA’s Bee Research Laboratory, Jeffery S. Pettis, has moved out of his post to devote more time to research, according to the agency. Pettis led the lab for nine years, working to improve bee health and management. He published a widely viewed paper last year that linked sublethal pesticide exposure and pathogens to negative impacts on honeybee colonies (PLoS One 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070182). Environmental activists speculate that Pettis was forced to step down because of pressure on USDA from pesticide manufacturers. After the announcement that Pettis will no longer be the spokesman for the bee lab, the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned EPA to conduct an emergency review of the toxicity of neonicotinoid pesticides. This class of pesticides has been linked to honeybee declines. EPA is otherwise scheduled to finish its review of neonicotinoid pesticides by 2019. The European Union declared a two-year ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides last year out of concerns for bee health.