The bees of the world are dying. All of them. This is not something new. But now the bee plague – “colony collapse disorder” (CDD), which is either caused by a virus or a pesticide or a fungus or a combination of all three, no one really knows – is starting to raise serious concerns. A recent story at the Telegraph explains.
The bee crisis has been treated as a niche concern until now, but as the UN’s index of food prices hits an all time-high in real terms (not just nominal) and grain shortages trigger revolutions in the Middle East, it is becoming urgent to know whether the plight of the honey bee risks further exhausting our already thin margin of global food security.
Yes. It is time to break out the bottle of celebratory wine. Check out all that apocalyptic language! “All time high,” “grain shortages” “revolutions,” “thin margin of global food security.” I am excited.
Why does a bee plague mean a global food shortage? The answer is sort of unexpected, given the most modern facade of Western agriculture, but farmers apparently rely on bees to pollinate their crops. I’m really confused about how this fits into the whole US industrial food complex (i.e. corn), but Telegraph says that “[a]lmost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, largely by honey bees.”
This is disturbing to me. Who knows if the Telegraph has any idea what it’s talking about, anyways. I’m kidding. Maybe they mean Asia and the third world, which would be less alarming from a selfish perspective. It’s just scary because I live in America and the freaking article says:
The reservoir of bees is dwindling to the point where ratios are dangerously out of kilter, with the US reaching the “most extreme” imbalance… [and] animal pollination is essential for nuts, melons and berries, and plays varying roles in citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, avocados, cucumbers, coconuts, tomatoes and broad beans, as well as coffee and cocoa.”
Those foods, say the article, are the fastest growing and most valuable part of the global food economy.
The British Beekeepers’ Association has issued a ‘plea’ that the production of certain pesticides be halted, otherwise they think the world’s liable to lose all its bees in ten years. Similar groups in the US have voiced the same concern. Seems bleak.