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Price of pollination-dependent produce on the up, say researchers [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

The important role animals play in food supply and agriculture's increasing dependence on pollination is the subject of new research findings from German researchers, published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study shows that in recent years, the economic value of pollination-de...
Price of pollination-dependent produce on the up, say researchers
The important role animals play in food supply and agriculture's increasing dependence on pollination is the subject of new research findings from German researchers, published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study shows that in recent years, the economic value of pollination-dependent crops has substantially increased around the world: whereas in 1993 the value of ecological pollination services was around EUR 151 billion, by 2009 it had risen to approximately EUR 265 billion.

The team was made up of researchers from the University of Bonn, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Dresden University of Technology and the University of Freiburg. They analysed the relationship between agriculture and pollination by investigating 60 crops, such as coffee, cocoa, apples and soya beans, which are dependent upon pollination by animals, mostly insects like honeybees, wild bees, butterflies a bumble bees.

Since 2001, the costs of production for pollination-dependent crops have risen significantly, indeed far faster than the prices of non-pollination-dependent field crops such as rice, grains or maize.

The team believe this indicates that the intensification of agriculture is reflected in a global price increase for pollination-dependent cultures. The more fields are sprayed with more pesticides, the more fertilisers are applied and valuable agricultural structural elements, such as hedges and rows of trees, are transformed into fields. As a result, the insects start to vanish and the extent of pollination is reduced, which leads to higher production prices.

Dr Sven Lautenbach, from the UFZ, comments: 'We see this price increase as an initial warning signal that conflicts could arise between the services of insect-related pollination and other agricultural interests.'

After carrying out this analysis, the researchers were able to map out where in the world agricultural yields were most dependent on pollination. The results show that countries such as Brazil, China, India, Japan and the United States greatly benefit from pollination-dependent products. In Europe, dependence on pollination is highest primarily in Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Greece, and in Africa it is highest in Egypt, in the region along the Nile.

The team warn that a potential decline of pollination could particularly affect countries where pollination-dependent crops represent a substantial part of the gross domestic product from agriculture: Argentina, Belgium, China, Ghana, Honduras, Côte d'Ivoire and Jordan. The researchers have also successfully shown that in countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon or Ukraine the relative dependence on these agricultural products has increased significantly between 1993 and 2009. In countries such as Egypt, India, Jordan or Turkey, on the other hand, the relative dependence declined during the same period.

This research emphasises the urgent need to protect our insects and the essential pollination services they carry out.
Source: Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

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  • Germany
Record Number: 34571 / Last updated on: 2012-05-02
Category: Miscellaneous
Provider: EC