Posted on May 21, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

UN: Shrinking bee populations pose threat to global food security, nutrition

FAO urges countries to step up efforts to protect 'crucial allies' in fight against hunger

The global decline in bee populations poses a serious threat to a wide variety of plants critical to human well-being and livelihoods, and countries should do more to safeguard them in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, the United Nations said Tuesday on UN World Bee Day.

About two-thirds of the crop plants that feed the world rely on pollination by insects or other animals to produce healthy fruits and seeds for human consumption. Bees and other pollinators such as birds and bats, affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines.

Bees and other pollinators are declining in abundance in many parts of the world largely due to intensive farming practices, mono-cropping, excessive use of agricultural chemicals and higher temperatures associated with climate change, affecting not only crop yields but also nutrition.

“If this trend continues, nutritious crops such as fruits, nuts, and many vegetables will be substituted increasingly by staple crops like rice, corn, and potatoes, eventually resulting in an imbalanced diet, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), adding that 2019 year marks the second observance of World Bee Day.

“The absence of bees and other pollinators would wipe out coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa to name just a few of the crops that rely on pollination,” said FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a video message recorded for this year’s World Bee Day. “Countries need to shift to more pollinator-friendly and sustainable food policies and systems.”

FAO carries out various activities to encourage pollinator-friendly practices in agricultural management, including the Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture and the International Pollinators Initiative.

FAO’s recent State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture report stresses that many species, associated with biodiversity, including bees, are under severe threat, and calls on governments and the international community to do more to address the core drivers of biodiversity loss.

Another study entitled Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production issued by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), highlights a number of ways to effectively safeguard pollinator populations to ensure food security and preserve biodiversity.

VIDEO: Why bees matter?

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