Bees’ disappearing act continues at an alarming rate. What will happen to our health if the bees go away? The authors of a recent study explain,
While pollinators improve yields for crops that contribute nutrients to the food supply, the role that pollinated crops actually play in the nutritional health of individuals and populations remains unclear. Understanding this role requires additional information on actual diets, nutrient consumption, and baseline levels of nutrition.”
With such questions in mind, researchers studied four countries (Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, and Bangladesh) where malnutrition already runs rampant. Combining dietary surveys and other food consumption records with data collected on crop pollination, scientists were able to get a clearer picture of which foods provided people with key nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, iron, folate, and calcium.
By imagining two different scenarios, one in which we lived in a world where pollinators were thriving, and the other where all the bees had disappeared, the researchers were able to estimate and compare rates of malnourishment.
While the findings varied widely depending on the country, there were some very troubling results, especially when it came to Vitamin A. For example in the case of Uganda, without pollinators Vitamin A deficiencies would rise by 15 percent. That number jumps to 56 percent in Mozambique.
A recent article in Takepart explores the implications:
Annually, vitamin A deficiency causes an estimated 800,000 deaths in women and children, including 20–24 percent of child mortality from measles, diarrhea and malaria and 20 percent of all-cause maternal mortality.”
In other words, Vitamin A deficiencies due to the disappearance of pollinators would likely lead to much higher levels of overall disease and death in developing countries.
As Wellness Warriors we must continue to spread the word about the plight of the bees! We can do so by continuing to boycott neonicotinoids (which have been tied to bee colony collapse) in our own yards and farms while pushing Congress to create better laws and policies that protect bees here in the United States.
IMAGE: via flickr
Do Pollinators Contribute to Nutritional Health? Via PLOS.org
Scientists: Save the Bees, or People Will Go Hungry via Takepart
Save Our Bees Via Takepart