Shrinking Pollinator Populations Could Be Killing 427,000 People Per Year
December 27, 2022
Pollinators like bees, butterflies, bats and moths help farmers grow healthy foods. They support the production of vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes—but now, when there are fewer pollinators around to help plants reproduce, crop yields are decreasing.
A new study finds the world is losing 3 to 5 percent of its fruit, vegetable and nut production because of shrinking pollinator populations and lower pollinator diversity. Those losses, in turn, mean that people have less healthy food to eat and suffer from associated health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Based on modeling, these health effects lead to an estimated 427,000 excess deaths per year—on the same order of magnitude as prostate cancer, interpersonal violence and substance use disorders, according to the researchers.