Slow Food works to raise awareness of the dramatic decline of global bee populations and is calling for an end to the use of harmful pesticides and biodiversity destruction associated with this decline.
All over the world, honeybee populations – both wild and farmed – are falling dramatically. This phenomenon has increased significantly in recent years and is predominantly affecting countries and regions in which agriculture is industrialized: Europe, South and North America, Asia and even some African countries.
Bees and other pollinating insects, play a crucial role in biodiversity and agriculture. They form an integral part of our food system, pollinating crops that end up as food on our dinner tables. This ongoing disappearance could therefore be disastrous.
Without bees, a large number of wild and cultivated plant species would no longer exist. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that out of some 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated.
Falling bee populations have been attributed to a number of causes:
- Environmental factors: There is growing evidence to suggest that industrial monocultures, which destroy biodiversity and use large quantities of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, present a huge threat to bees. In 2013 the European Food Safety Authority published findings showing that neonicotinoids – the world’s most commonly used pesticides – pose an unacceptably high risk to bees. These findings resulted in a partial ban on their usage within the EU. The link between GMOs and bee decline is also being evaluated.
- Pathological factors: Bees suffer from specific diseases and parasites that weaken them and often kill them.
- Climate factors: Climate change can also have a damaging effect, for example by changing flowering periods, which can catch bee colonies unprepared.
Slow Food has long promoted a clean agricultural system that protects the landscape, does not harm the environment and preserves biodiversity. This is the ideal kind of agriculture for the well-being of bee colonies.
All over the world, honeybee populations – both wild and farmed – are falling dramatically. This decline is increasingly being linked to the extensive use of pesticides and destruction of their habitats.
As bees form an integral part of our food system, pollinating crops that end up as food on our dinner tables, the loss of bees has worrying consequences: not just for the availability of food, but also on the survival of entire ecosystems on which we depend.
Photo: © Giuseppe Fassino