(MONGABAY.COM) Saving the world's pollinators may be a public health issue, according to recent research from Harvard and the University of Vermont. Scientists have long believed that pollinators are important for human nutrition, but this is first time they have tested the hypothesis. What they found is disturbing: pollinator collapse could increase nutrient deficiency across local populations by a up to 56 percent in four developing counties, with Vitamin A the most vulnerable to pollinator decline.
"Populations of both managed and wild pollinators are declining around the globe, and the importance of pollinators to farm productivity and economics is increasingly clear," the researchers write in the open-access paper in PLOS ONE.
By pollinating a huge number of important crops, the world's pollinators—like bees, butterflies, wasps and others—play an outsized role in global food production and nutrient production. As the researchers write, "recent studies have estimated that pollinators are responsible for up to 40 percent of the world's supply of nutrients."
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