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Extinct of pollinators threatens food production: scientist

By Peter Mutai NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The volume of food production of pollinator dependent crops is set to reduce following the extinction of a number of pollinator species globally, a scientist has revealed.

Professor Simon Potts from the University of Reading said on Wednesday that the pollinator’s demise is a big threat to millions of livelihoods and billions of dollars worth of food supplies.

“The 75 percent of the world’s food crops that depend on pollination by insects and other animals are getting extinct hence affecting the economic base of most economies especially in the developing world,” Potts said during a side event at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi.

He attributed the loss to human activity such as destruction of habitats for agriculture, over use of fertilizers and mushrooming of houses in urban centers that calls for the demand of housing.

Potts noted that the pollinators are further threatened by the decline of practices based on indigenous and local knowledge.

The practices, he said include traditional farming systems, maintenance of diverse landscapes and gardens, kinship relationship that protects specific pollinators and cultures and languages that are connected to pollinators.

“The food production is currently reducing at a high rate and the trend if not checked is likely to cause food shortage globally,” he added.

Potts called on the governments to put in place long term international and regional monitoring strategies and help create awareness to reverse the trend.

He revealed that the developing world is disadvantaged from the fact that they lack past studies as opposed to Europe and North America where a lot of literature exist.

According to the International Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), pollinators are economically, socially and culturally important.

IPBES said that the more than 20,000 species of wild bees plus many species of butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetle, birds, bats and other animals are at risk.

“Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security,” IPBES Co- Chair Professor Vera Lucia said.

She noted that pollinated crops like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils are like to demise hence the increase of malnutrition in the world.

Potts observed that more than three quarters of the world’s food crops rely at least in part on pollination by insects and other animals.

He said that pollinators, besides playing a role in food production, have also helped in art, music, religion and technology.

“It is unfortunate that an estimated 16 percent of the vertebrate pollinators are threatened with global extinction,” he added.

Potts noted that genetically modified crops reduce the availability of weeds which supply food for pollinators.

He noted that climate change is also leading to changes in the distribution of many pollinating bumblebees and butterflies and the plants that depend on them.

“Long term international and national monitoring of both pollinators and pollination is urgently required to provide information on status and trends for most species and in most parts of the world,” Potts said.

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