Save the bees, your nutritious food depends on it
A new study recently published in the online journalPloSONEhas found that many fruits and vegetables that globally provide the highest levels of vitamins and minerals to the human diet are heavily dependent on pollination by bees and other animals.
The declining numbers of animal pollinators in many parts of the world caused by factors such as disease, pesticides and lack of nutritional (floral) resources is therefore of major significance to the long-term availability of nutrient-rich food.
The study was carried out by a team that consisted of both pollination ecologists and a nutrition expert. They found that,“animal-pollinated crops contain the majority of the available dietary lipid, vitamins A, C and E, and a large portion of the minerals calcium, fluoride and iron worldwide. The yield increase attributable to animal-dependent pollination of these crops is significant and could have a potentially drastic effect on human nutrition if jeopardized”.
The research team also found that several key phytonutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, ß-cryptoxanthin, several forms of vitamin E and about 90% of the available vitamin C are present predominantly in crops that are propagated by pollinators; key nutrients that are related to lower risks of life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Researchers have estimated that up to 40% of some essential nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables could be lost without pollinators, demonstrating the potential impact of the decline in pollinators on human health.
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
by Rachel Bartholomew Dip ION MBANT
Eilers, Kremen et al. Contribution of Pollinator-Mediated Crops to Nutrients in the Human Food Supply. PloS ONE, 2011; 6 (6): e21363 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021363