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Pollinator decline threatens global agriculture – Bee

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As the 2018 agriculture fair opens and the agricultural world is confronted with multiple crises, let us remember that two years ago, researchers gathered in IBPES presented the results of a a large study showing the dependence of global agriculture on pollinators. The report also explained that these species are clearly in decline and that their protection becomes vital for many agricultural productions.

Moral: if you like chocolate, protect bees.

“Without pollinators, many of us could no longer enjoy coffee, chocolate or apples,” says Simon Potts, who works at the University of Reading, UK. Like others, he is part of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES ( Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ). This international network of researchers, born in 2010 and officially established in 2012 by 124 countries, is built on the model of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) and, as its name suggests, is responsible for biodiversity updateWorld. It is at its fourth plenary meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the publication of its first report. It is now concretized by an evaluation of the role of pollination in agricultural production for food purposes ( Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production ).

The results of this two-year study conducted by 80 scientists can be summed up in numbers and tips to protect animals, insects, of course, but also vertebrates, which are useful for the reproduction of flowering plants, wild or cultivated. The finding is twofold: natural pollination (which can also be windy) is crucial or important for three – quarters of world agriculture and, on the other hand, pollinator species are declining everywhere.

The seven digits of pollination

According to a report, hundreds of millions of people around the world and a turnover of several hundred billion euros depend on far from natural pollination.

These are the seven figures highlighted by the report:

  • 20,000: the number of wild bee species that participate in pollination. There are many more pollinators, insects (wasps, butterflies, moths, etc.), birds, bats and other vertebrates.
  • 75%: Percentage of global food crops that depend, at least in part, on pollination.
  • 214 to 525 billion euros: annual income of crops directly influenced by pollinators.
  • 300%: increase in fifty years of production, in volume, dependent on pollination.
  • Nearly 90%: percentage of wild flowering plants that depend, at least in part, on pollination by animals.
  • 1.6 million tonnes: annual production of honey in the West. 16.5%: percentage of vertebrate pollinators in danger of extinction.
  • More than 40%: percentage of pollinating invertebrates (especially bees and butterflies) in danger of extinction.

Reported by  Le Monde , a reaction of scientists has just put a little shade on this report. She points out that two of the chapters  “are under the responsibility of Bayer and Syngenta” , pesticide companies regularly accused of participating in the decline of pollinating insects (not just honey bees).

In any case, the report provides informative and costed facts showing the importance of protecting the animal populations involved in pollination. It will serve as a basis for future environmental protection policies.

Dr. Jake Paul

Ph.D Plant Pathology, University of Georgia

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