Decline Of Bees And Other Pollinators Could Threaten World Food Supply, UN Report Warns

Posted: Feb 27 2016, 11:48am CST | by , Updated: Feb 28 2016, 9:15am CST, in News | Latest Science News


Decline of Bees and Other Pollinators Could Threaten World Food Supply, UN Report Warns
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Thousands of species of pollinators including bees, butterflies, wasps, birds and bats are at risk of extinction.

Thousands of bee species, butterflies, birds and other pollinators are heading towards extinction. This trend poses a huge threat to world food supply because pollinators help plants in producing their next generation and contribute to the hundreds of billions of dollars of food every year.

According to latest United Nations’ report, more than 20,000 pollinator species play a vital role in providing world food supply. Yet an estimated 40% population of invertebrate pollinators including bees, butterflies and wasps has declined considerably over the years, putting them at risk of extinction.

“We are in a period of decline and there are going to be increasing consequences,” said report lead author Simon Potts, director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research at the University of Reading in England.

“Without pollinators many of us would no longer be able to enjoy coffee, chocolate and apples among many other foods that are part of our daily lives.”

Pollinator crops include those that produce fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts which are also an important source of vitamins and minerals and without them people around the world may face food shortage. 75% of world’s food crops require pollinators in one way or another. Nearly 90% of wild flowering plants are also dependent on pollinators to at least some extent. 

There are several factors that are pushing pollinators towards extinction and many of them are man-made.

“Wild pollinators in certain regions, especially bees and butterflies, are being threatened by a variety of factors,” said Robert Watson, vice-chair of IPBES. “Their decline is primarily due to changes in land-use, intensive agricultural practices and pesticide use, alien invasive species, diseases, and pests and climate change.”

The most affected areas are North Western Europe and North America while many other parts of the world are also experiencing similar kind of trend toward population decline.

The latest UN report not only provides an overall assessment of pollinators decline but also highlight a number of ways to counteract this situation and to protect the population of pollinators. 

“The good news is that a number of steps can be taken to reduce the risks of pollinators, including practices based on indigenous and local knowledge.” Zakri Abdul Hamid, elected Founding Chair of IPBES said.

Maintaining the pollinator habitats in cities and agriculture areas, less use of pesticides and crop rotation are the few possible ways to overcome the problem.

Unlike global warming, it does not require all the countries to agree on global action. All governments can act locally and try to fix this issue which can otherwise put millions of people and their livelihood at risk.  

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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