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Controversies in Science and TechnologyFrom Sustainability to Surveillance$
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Daniel Lee Kleinman, Karen A. Cloud-Hansen, and Jo Handelsman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199383771

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199383771.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 January 2022

On an Economic Treadmill of Agriculture: Efforts to Resolve Pollinator Decline

On an Economic Treadmill of Agriculture: Efforts to Resolve Pollinator Decline

(p.259) Chapter 18 On an Economic Treadmill of Agriculture: Efforts to Resolve Pollinator Decline
Controversies in Science and Technology

Sainath Suryanarayanan

Oxford University Press

On your next stroll outdoors, you may come across a flowering plant, enjoy its beauty, and perhaps even taste its fruits. A wandering Homo sapiens, however, is probably not the flowering plant’s primary audience; an insect pollinator is more likely the one being wooed. Indeed, the vast biodiversity of flowering plants and insects on Earth is thought to be the result of a fruitful co-evolution over several million years between these organisms (Price 1997, pp. 239–258). Bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, and several other insects are also crucial in their role as pollinators for sus­taining managed agricultural ecosystems (or agro-ecosystems; National Research Council [NRC] 2007). Honey bees (Apis mellifera), managed by beekeepers, are alone estimated to be responsible for over $15 billion worth of increased yield and quality in the United States annually (Morse and Calderone 2000). U.S. growers rent an estimated 2 million beehives each year from beekeepers to pollinate over ninety different fruit, vegetable, and fiber crops (Delaplane and Mayer 2000; NRC 2007). In the first decades of the 21st century, public and scientific attention in the United States and elsewhere has been gripped by frequent reports of declines in populations of insect pollinators (e.g., Biesmeijer et al. 2006; NRC 2007), exemplified most dramatically by the news of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) among managed honey bees (vanEngelsdorp et al. 2009; Pettis and Delaplane 2010). While there are ongoing scientific and public debates over the extent to which the documented declines in insect pollinators constitute a global “pollinator crisis,” whether agricultural productivity has actually declined due to these losses, and what the primary causal factors are, there is nonetheless a consensus that parts of North America and Europe continue to undergo worrying reductions in the diversity and abundance of multiple species of insect pollinators (Ghazoul 2005; Stefan-Dewenter et al. 2005; NRC 2007; Carvalheiro et al. 2013). In this chapter, I analyze the main kinds of efforts that are being taken by key institutional players to resolve the environmental problem of pollinator decline in the United States.

Keywords:   almonds, biodiversity, consensus, education, fertilizer, habitat, monoculture, nutrition, oil, pollination

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