JUL 20, 2022 10:30 AM PDT

Food Prices Out of Control. Pollinators Could Help

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Rising food prices continue to make headlines. Food prices in general have jumped about 10% over the past year. Certain food products, such as beef, eggs, and fresh fruits, have risen the most. People have pointed the finger at various potential causes, such as rampant government spending, political instability since the Ukraine-Russia war, and choked supply chains that haven’t fully recovered from the pandemic.

Regardless of the reasons, finding ways to keep food prices from getting out of hand is important to promoting food security around the globe. New research suggests that stabilizing food supplies of vital crops can be one way to help bring down food prices and insulate them against dramatic changes caused by shifts in the market. How, you might ask? Pollinators, of course.

According to a study published in Ecology Letters, a UK-based research team from the University of Reading explored how pollinators affect crop yields, with a particular focus on their ability to promote stable, consistent yields. The team reviewed years of data to better understand the relationship between pollinators and crops. Overall, they found that pollinators like bees can help improve crop yields and keep crop outputs consistent, insulating from the significant market downswings. 

While it was well known that pollinators help increase crop yields, this new research highlights that they play a vital role in maintaining crop yields.

In the study, researchers examined how pollinators affected the stability of crop yields from individual plants as well as in larger spaces, such as fields. The team found that pollinators led to more consistent yields, whether on an individual plant or in a community of plants in a field. They focused specifically on faba bean, oilseed rape, and apples, all of which play a vital role in food yields around the globe. 

Researchers cite a “ceiling effect” as part of the reason pollinators help with stabilizing crop yields. Pollinators can increase the limits of crop yields and make them more stable to fluctuations in the availability of other resources, such as nutrients in the soil.

Sources: Science Daily; Ecology Letters

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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