Do more to save bees

The collapse of bee populations may not lead to food riots just yet, but if that largely man-made disaster continues unchecked, it will be increasingly difficult to grow crops that rely on bees for pollination.

The EU has responded to this crisis by banning the world’s most widely used insecticides — neonicotinoids — and many countries encourage the planting of wildflowers to sustain insects. This newfound commitment followed a German study, which recorded that 75% of insects had disappeared over the last 25 years, a startling reality check in a world where more than 80% of food crops require insect-assisted pollination.

This week, a UN biodiversity conference heard how easy it is to help bee and insect populations regain a toehold in farmland where they have been purged by chemicals. In a country like this, especially in areas dominated by intensive dairy production, farmers should be encouraged to vary our ever-expanding grass monoculture by leaving even one headland in a field chemical-free and by planting strips of plants to encourage vital pollinators.

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