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  • Writer's picturePollinator Stewardship Council

The Ecconomic Impact of Pollinators

A recent study explored the role of pollinators in our food system and explained how a deficit of pollinators may impact human health. Many crops are receiving suboptimal pollination due to low pollinator numbers and limited pollinator diversity, and "are currently suffering owing to a host of direct and indirect anthropogenic pressures: land-use change, intensive farming techniques, harmful pesticides, nutritional stress, and climate change..."  

Unlike a previous study showing a potential future with theoretical losses of 50%, 75%, and 100% of global pollinators leading to 23% reduction in plant crops, this analysis examined the current data and resulting penalties due to inadequate global pollination. The authors determined that 3-5% of edible plant production is currently lost due to inadequate pollination, linking nearly a half million excess deaths annually from lost food consumption.  Identifying that insect pollination results in a 75% increase in the production of agricultural crops, the study noted that multiple studies have estimated the contribution of animal pollination to the annual value of global agricultural output at $224–577 billion (in 2015 USD).  They found that lost food production was greatest in lower-income countries and in some areas, pollinator deficits were found to be significantly more substantial at an estimated 26% of vegetable production. The authors noted that the "ongoing use of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, have inflicted lethal and sublethal harm to bees both on treated farms and in nearby areas... Globally, we estimated that the world is currently losing 4.7%  of total production of fruit, 3.2% of vegetables, and 4.7% of nuts due to insufficient pollination."  

The Pollinator Stewardship Council is raising funds to conduct a comprehensive research study to determine the economic impact of honeybees in our food system.  We believe this information is critical to the future of pollinator protection and of great value to many organizations and individuals working on this important issue.  We need your help-please donate today to help fund this essential research. 

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