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And through a series of stark images, bee expert Dave Goulson has revealed just what the devastating impact would be – should our fuzzy friends disappear for good.
Because they’re the dominant pollinator in most terrestrial ecosystems, thousands of wild plant species and 75 percent of the crops we grow wouldn’t be pollinated, he warns.
The amount of fruit and veg available in supermarkets would be hugely reduced, and many flower varieties will similarly cease to exist.
The University of Sussex professor teamed up with Clipper Teas to highlight the threat posed by pesticides to bee numbers and in turn the eco-system during Organic September.
This follows research of 2,000 adults, also commissioned by the organic, fairtrade tea makers, which found a quarter don’t realise organic farming helps bee populations thrive.
Professor Dave Goulson said: “Many pesticides are directly toxic to bees – not just insecticides, but also fungicides and herbicides.
“And worryingly honey stores in bee nests often contain cocktails of ten or more pesticides.
“There is abundant evidence these pesticides kill bees or have “sublethal” effects such as impaired learning, low resistance to disease, and reduced fertility.
“Furthermore, herbicides also get rid of weeds – otherwise known as wildflowers – so less food for bees.”
It’s surprising that more than half our nation are unaware that organic foods are better for insects and other wildlife
Caroline Rose, Clipper Teas
The study also found 37 percent aren’t sure how organic food is better for the environment than non-organic produce.
Four in ten don’t know food produced this way contains no harmful chemicals, while 44 percent aren’t aware fewer pesticides are used.
More than half also don’t realise organic foods are better for insects and other animals, and 59 percent have no idea they’re also better for our own health.
Caroline Rose, from Clipper Teas, said: “It’s surprising that more than half our nation are unaware that organic foods are better for insects and other wildlife.
“And nearly 60 percent don’t realise the wide-reaching benefits of organic produce on not only the environment, but their health.
“We’re asking more people to buy organic because simply put, more organic produce means more organic farms and more organic farms means fewer pesticides and more wildlife.
“What’s more, there’s no compromise on taste. Lless nasties in your food and drink means a cleaner, more natural and more delicious flavour, so there really is no downside.”
Organic produce is also natural, and not bleached or dyed a particular colour – traits that 61 percent and 65 percent respectively are unaware of.
Furthermore, 43 percent don’t know organic soil can help prevent climate change – because it absorbs more carbon dioxide than non-organic varieties.
And this lack of awareness may explain why 27 percent of adults don’t consider the impact on the eco-system when purchasing food produce and other items.
Caroline Rose added: “We believe it’s down to businesses, as well as individuals, to make steps to improving our environment which is why we’ve launched this initiative this Organic September.
“We have a long history of being organic and fairtrade and want to make a real difference but need others to follow suit.”
However, there is good news – the study carried out through OnePoll, found 64 percent have taken steps to make their garden or outside space bee-friendly.
Popular methods include planting bee friendly plants and flowers (72 percent), letting their lawn grow for longer than normal (45 percent), and not using pesticides (42 percent).
Professor Goulson added: “There are at least 6,000 different types of pollinating insect in the UK alone.
“Bees are remarkably clever – they’re able to learn the most rewarding flowers, memorise landmarks, and navigate to and from their nest over miles of countryside.
“They also avoid empty flowers by sniffing them for the whiff of a previous recent bee visitor.
“And the phrase “busy bee” is not without merit – a single bee can pollinate 4,000 flowers in a day.
“So, it’s wonderful to see just how many people are doing their best to help bees – but the battle to save them is far from over.”
WHAT WOULD VANISH IF BEES BECAME EXTINCT:
- Christmas cake
- Baked beans
- Spicy food
- Pasta sauces
- Pizza toppings
- Many curries
- Strawberry jam (and most fruit jams)
- Kiwi fruit
- Broad beans
- Runner beans
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