Economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline

INRA, UMR LAMETA, 2 place Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France
Ecological Economics (Impact Factor: 2.72). 01/2009; 68(3):810-821. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2008.06.014
Source: RePEc


There is mounting evidence of pollinator decline all over the world and consequences in many agricultural areas could be significant. We assessed these consequences by measuring 1) the contribution of insect pollination to the world agricultural output economic value, and 2) the vulnerability of world agriculture in the face of pollinator decline. We used a bioeconomic approach, which integrated the production dependence ratio on pollinators, for the 100 crops used directly for human food worldwide as listed by FAO. The total economic value of pollination worldwide amounted to €153 billion, which represented 9.5% of the value of the world agricultural production used for human food in 2005. In terms of welfare, the consumer surplus loss was estimated between €190 and €310 billion based upon average price elasticities of − 1.5 to − 0.8, respectively. Vegetables and fruits were the leading crop categories in value of insect pollination with about €50 billion each, followed by edible oil crops, stimulants, nuts and spices. The production value of a ton of the crop categories that do not depend on insect pollination averaged €151 while that of those that are pollinator-dependent averaged €761. The vulnerability ratio was calculated for each crop category at the regional and world scales as the ratio between the economic value of pollination and the current total crop value. This ratio varied considerably among crop categories and there was a positive correlation between the rate of vulnerability to pollinators decline of a crop category and its value per production unit. Looking at the capacity to nourish the world population after pollinator loss, the production of 3 crop categories – namely fruits, vegetables, and stimulants - will clearly be below the current consumption level at the world scale and even more so for certain regions like Europe. Yet, although our valuation clearly demonstrates the economic importance of insect pollinators, it cannot be considered as a scenario since it does not take into account the strategic responses of the markets.

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    • "Approximately 35% of crops depend directly on pollinators (Klein et al., 2007), accounting for an estimated, annual value of 153 billion Euros (Gallai et al., 2009). The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most widely managed pollinator of crops. "
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    • "The past decade has seen a multitude of dramatic reports on honeybee (Apis mellifera) declines that raised great public and societal concern. Indeed the value of honeybees for human society has been estimated to exceed 153 billion (Gallai et al., 2008) primarily as key pollinators of many crops. The function as generalist pollinators also puts them into a key position for any ecosystem functioning that arguably exceeds any conceivable pecuniary value. "
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