Pollinator-dependent crops in Brazil yield nearly half of nutrients for humans and livestock feed

Rafaella Guimarães Porto, Oswaldo Cruz-Neto, Marcelo Tabarelli, Blandina Felipe Viana, Carlos A. Peres, Ariadna Valentina Lopes

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Animal pollination services provide multiple benefits to humanity as they contribute to 35% of global food production and directly account for up to 40% of the dietary nutrient supply to humanity worldwide. Population declines of vertebrate and invertebrate pollination vectors may threaten human nutrition and well-being, particularly where agriculture relies heavily on animal pollinators. We examined the relative differences in nutrient concentrations of 45 leading crops produced throughout Brazil, the world's largest tropical agricultural producer and exporter. We also estimated the overall reductions in nutrient yields under different scenarios of pollinator declines, based on annual agricultural production. Of the 45 top-ranking crops, 29 and 16 were classified as pollinator-dependent and non-dependent, respectively. Pollinator-dependent crops provided 47% of all dietary nutrients supplied in 2017, which had significantly higher concentrations of lipids, vitamin B9, and potassium, while pollinator non-dependent crops provided higher carbohydrate content. Under either a best- or worst-case pollinator declines scenario, we estimate overall nutritional losses of 7.9% and 29.5%, respectively. These losses ranged from 4% to 18% for all macronutrients, 6.8%–26.2% for all minerals, and 2.4%–31.5% for all vitamins. We emphasize the need for land-use strategies that sustain, if not increase pollinator abundance and species diversity to ensure agricultural viability and future food security.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100587
JournalGlobal Food Security
Early online date28 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Biotic pollination
  • Brazilian crops
  • Food security
  • Nutritional value
  • Pollination service
  • Vitamins

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