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GLOBAL STUDY FINDS VITAL BEES AND POLLINATORS AT RISK

02/29/2016

A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to the first global assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released February 26. Bees and other pollinators face increasing risks to their survival, threatening foods such as apples, blueberries and coffee worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Pesticides, loss of habitats to farms and cities, disease and climate change were among threats to about 20,000 species of bees as well as to creatures such as birds, butterflies, beetles, and bats that fertilize flowers by spreading pollen, the report said. "Pollinators are critical to the global economy and human health," Zakri Abdul Hamid, chair of the 124-nation report, told Reuters of a finding that between $235 billion and $577 billion of world food output depends on pollinators. The study pointed to risks from pesticides such as neonicotinoids, linked to damaging effects in North America and Europe. But it said there were still many gaps in understanding the long-term impact. The study also said the impact of genetically modified crops on pollinators was still poorly understood. However, the two-year study also highlights a number of ways to effectively safeguard pollinator populations. "The good news is that a number of steps can be taken to reduce the risks," Zakri said. Planting strips or patches of wild flowers could attract pollinators to fields of crops, and reduced use of pesticides or a shift to organic farming could also restrict the damage. For the full story, see http://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-pollination-idUSKCN0VZ0U6. For more information, see http://www.ipbes.net/article/pollinators-vital-our-food-supply-under-threat.