Einstein’s ‘bee demise’ hypothesis ‘a myth’: Experts

May 8th, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 08 (ANI): Albert Einstein once speculated that ‘if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.’ Now, scientists have described the idea as a ‘myth’.

Honeybees pollinate many of the vegetables and fruit eaten by humans and that feed livestock.

Now, researchers from Argentina and Canada say it is not true that a decline in the pollinators may threaten the human food supply - creating a ‘pollination crisis’.

Scientists said that most agricultural crop production does not depend on pollinators but they do warn honeybees are crucial for some of our favourite foods like plums, raspberries, cherries, mangoes, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts.

They also found that demand for this type of crop has more than tripled in the past half century.

“We were particularly astonished when we found the fraction of agricultural production that depends on pollinators - which includes all of these luxury agriculture items - started growing at a faster pace since the fall of communism in the former USSR and Eastern Europe,” the Scotsman quoted Dr Marcelo Aizen, of Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Argentina, as saying.

“It grew at a much higher rate than the larger fraction of agricultural production that does not depend on pollinators, including wheat and rice, which just follow human population growth.

“Although the primary cause of the accelerating increase of pollinator- dependent crops seems to be economic and political - not biological - their rapid expansion has the potential to trigger future pollination problems for both these crops and native species in neighbouring areas,” Aizen added.

Alan Teale, president of the Scottish Beekeepers Association, said he agreed that the end of bees doesn’t mean the end of humans.

“It’s generally said that about 70 per cent of the human diet is dependent on pollination of some kind. That’s not all done by bees. There are many species of pollinators,” he said.

“My view is that if honeybees disappeared then we would not have the crisis that some people say we would have. We would certainly have less variety and changes would have to be introduced that people might not like. Many of the high-quality things might disappear,” he added.

He also raised a question whether Einstein really said that humans would die out four years after bees.

The study is published in Current Biology. (ANI)

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