Bee decline set to force food price up

THE DRAMATIC declines in bee numbers could force food prices up as farmers turn to hand-pollination.

 

Foodservice Footprint 534469_384290071594569_110861655604080_1256508_1809984129_n-300x200 Bee decline set to force food price up Foodservice industry news Foodservice News and Information Uncategorized  University of Reading United Nations The Bee Cause Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research by bee experts at the University of Reading have calculated that it would cost the UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees.

 

The new figure is the equivalent to the annual wages of 60,000 teachers. It also means that each colony left is worth over £21,500 (in theory).

 

Research has shown that England’s bees are vanishing at an alarming rate – colony numbers have fallen by over 50% in the past 20 years

 

Last month, new research showed that common crop pesticides seriously damage bees’ ability to navigate home.

 

All this is pointing to a problem for the food industry: bees are one of a number of insect pollinators crucial for crop pollination. A UN-backed study on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (www.teebweb.org) suggested that insect pollination is worth £120bn globally.

 

The reliance of food business on biodiversity cannot be underestimated, with some suggesting that if bee numbers continue to fall costly hand-pollination techniques will push food prices skywards.

 

Costly hand-pollination is already being used in parts of the world, notably pear trees in Hanyuan County, China, where native bee populations have been wiped out by a combination of loss of their natural habitat and intensive farming.

 

Friends of the Earth is launching a campaign calling for a national bee action plan (pictured). The Bee Cause (www.foe.org.uk/bees) is part of a campaign urging the Government to take the issue seriously and in turn save the nation billions by committing to a British bee action plan.

 

Paul de Zylva, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "Unless we halt the decline in British bees our farmers will have to rely on hand-pollination, sending food prices rocketing.

 

"Bees are responsible for most of our favourite fruit and vegetables so as well as the huge blow to our economy, our diet would also suffer.”

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