Agriculture unaffected by pollinator declines?

Nature News reports Agriculture unaffected by pollinator declines. A new paper in Long-Term Global Trends in Crop Yield and Production Reveal No Current Pollination Shortage but Increasing Pollinator Dependency from Current Biology (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.066) shows that:

Bees and many other insects may be in decline almost everywhere — but agriculture that depends on pollinators has been surprisingly unaffected at the global scale.

That’s the conclusion of a study by Alexandra Klein at the University of California, Berkeley, and her colleagues. Using a data set of global crop production — maintained by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) — which spanned 1961 to 2006, they compared the yields of crops that require pollinators with those that don’t.

They found that crop yields for both crop types have gone up consistently, seeing average annual growth rates of about 1.5%. There was also no difference when the researchers split the data into crops from developing countries and crops from developed countries.

And when the researchers compared crops that are cultivated almost exclusively in tropical regions, they found no difference between the success of insect-pollinated crops — such as oil palm, cocoa and the Brazil nut — and those crops that need only the breeze to spread their pollen.

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