Another environmental tipping point reached: the number of pollinators affects crop yields

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Keskiviikko 29.7.2020 klo 18:08 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Scientists have warned during the recent past that insect declines may soon start limiting crop production because of ineffective pollination. Thus, the very methods meant to increase crop production, i.e. insecticide use, may start to reduce agricultural production. This being the case, it is sad that the people losing most, i.e. farmers, are 

IMG_20170826_0075.jpgmost strongly behind the insecticide-producing companies. This shows the importance of lobbying: chemical companies have been lobbying ever since the Second World War how effective agricultural production is only possible with intensive pesticide use. The scientists warning of the possible consequences have been labelled as nature conservationists, who do not understand modern agriculture. As an example of this lobbying is that there is a journal Pest Management Science, which is thought of as authority on questions of pesticide use, is peer-reviewed and is published by Wiley. The group behind this journal is the Society of Chemical Industry (Great Britain).

Recent studies have indicated that a loss of insect diversity and number of insects occur in areas with intensive agriculture. Further, dying bees have made it to headline news. However, so far there has not been conclusive studies showing that the speculations of decreased crops because of reduced pollination have become reality.

Until now! In the article in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Published:29 July 2020, “Crop production in the USA is frequently limited by a lack of pollinators”, Reilly et al. clearly show that we have reached another environmental tipping point. For crops with large number of flowers like apples, cherries and blueberries, there simply aren’t enough pollinators to enable reaching maximal yields. With decreasing numbers of bees the situation becomes worse. So, in insecticide use, we have reached a vicious circle: to get maximal agricultural production, it is said that insecticide use must be heavy. However, it causes a decrease in pollinator numbers and reduces crop production. Not really a result one would hope for..

Avainsanat: insecticide; crop production, agriculture

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