The latest issue of Science for Environment Policy features a new study on the effect of pollinators decline on human health: "Global malnutrition overlaps with pollinator-dependent micronutrient production".
The worldwide decline of pollinators could increase cases of vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies in humans, new research suggests. For instance, pollination is needed for the crops that produce half of all plant-derived vitamin A across much of south-east Asia. Furthermore, areas which depend most on pollination for micronutrient supply tend to be poorer and already at higher risk of deficiencies.
It is now well established that pollinators provide a vital ecosystem service. Seventy-five per cent of the 115 species that make up the world’s major crops depend on, or benefit from, animal pollination. With wild and honeybees in global decline, it is clear that food security is at risk. The problem may be greater than a simple reduction in calories: many crops that depend on pollination also provide important vitamins and other micronutrients. Lower yields of such crops could therefore have serious health implications.
In this study, researchers used a global map of the 115 major food crops, which showed how dependent each crop was on pollinators for micronutrients. To show the pollinator dependency, they multiplied crop production by 0.95 if previous research had shown that animal pollination was ‘essential’, by 0.65 if dependence was ‘great’, by 0.25 for ‘modest’ and by 0.05 for ‘little’.
The full SEP policy brief: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/global_pollinator_decline_395na1_en.pdf
Chaplin-Kramer, R., Dombeck, E., Gerber, J. et al. (2014). Global malnutrition overlaps with pollinator-dependent micronutrient production. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281:20141799. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1799