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The Economic Impacts of Pollinator Declines: An Approach to Assessing the Consequences

Peter G Kevan, University of Guelph
Truman P Phillips, University of Guelph

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Abstract

Since agricultural activities were first recorded, there have been shortages of pollinators. Today it seems that pollination systems in many areas of agriculture are threatened by the inadequacy or lack of sustainable managed, indigenous, or imported pollinators. Pollinator shortages can adversely affect crop production and commodity markets. This paper presents an economic model than can be used to measure some of the economic impacts of pollinator deficits on traded commodities. This economic analysis indicates that consumers of a commodity affected by a pollinator deficit may suffer because the commodity costs more and becomes less available. At the same time, although the producers of the affected commodity may experience crop declines, they may also experience economic gains in the form of higher prices. The amount the producer gains or loses depends on the shape of the supply and demand functions, and the magnitude of these losses or gains is an empirical question. Although there are few data available to evaluate this model, those we do have indicate that serious problems for world food supply, security, and trade could be in the offing if current declines in pollinator abundance, diversity, and availability are not reversed. Various crops and cropping systems are suggested as practical starting places for economic studies of the effects of pollinator declines, with emphasis on the type of data required.

Key words

agricultural sustainability, economics, food prices, pollinator abundance, pollinator availability, pollinator deficit, pollinator diversity, pollinator force, world food supply, trade
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087