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An EU Parliamentary Conference on 28 June was told that more research is required to understand the drivers of pollinator population change. The hearing heard that pollination is crucial for the sexual reproduction of flowering plants, and thus for agriculture. Simon Potts, University of Reading, UK, said: "Nearly 75% of the world's crop species rely to some extent on insect pollination. Pollinators contribute an estimated €153 bn (US$221 bn) to the global economy and account for approximately 9% of agricultural food production". He explained that the honey bee is responsible for one third of insect pollination and that most pollination services are provided by wild bees and other insects.
Representatives of NGOs, farmers and land owners, beekeepers, scientists, MEPs and the crop protection industry attended the conference. They discussed the role of pollinators, their importance to agriculture and practical measures for enhancing their populations.
Luxembourg EPP member Astrid Lulling pointed out that the EU already operates a beekeeping programme which receives €32 m (US$46 m) per year. Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), told the Conference, "Today we have seen broad consensus on issues of timely relevance to European agriculture and the preservation of not only pollinator species, but biodiversity in general. It is reassuring to see that we are all moving in the right direction. Continued research into the drivers of pollinator population change will equip us with the knowledge to ensure sustainable agriculture and a European landscape that is beneficial to biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem services. Collaboration among all stakeholders is vital for success."
The Conference saw the official launch of the report Pollinators and Agriculture by the ECPA and the European landowners' organisation, which examines the diversity and functions of insect pollinators. It describes the value of pollination to agriculture, looks at the trends in pollinator population decline and explores options for reversing this trend.
Martin Banks (29 June 2011), www.theparliament.com
Article published in BfD Journal 100, September 2011