(209e) An Input-Output Framework to Assess the Importance of Insect Pollinators to US Industry Sectors: A Case Study of Apple Production

Authors: 
Jordan, A., University of Pittsburgh
Patch, H., Pennsylvania State University
Grozinger, C., Pennsylvania State University
Khanna, V., University of Pittsburgh
Ecosystem services remain highly critical and largely undervalued in industrial communities. Although the supply of these services is often considered boundless, many ecosystem services, including insect-mediated pollination, have suffered severe degradation and face overconsumption beyond rate of replenishment. While insects provide other valuable ecosystem services beyond pollination, both wild and managed species of bees and other pollinating insects are instrumental in yield and/or quality of approximately 75 pollination-dependent crops in the United States of America. In forty-five years, production of pollination-dependent crops has increased more rapidly (50-62%) than the global population of managed bees (45%) while simultaneously, wild flying insects in all regions (including protected natural lands) have declined up to and exceeding 75 percent over only the last twenty-seven years, both in biomass and with decreasing biodiversity. We determine that insect-mediated pollination of crops accounts for over 30 billion US dollars of pollination-dependent crop production alone making the ecosystem service a highly valuable asset to the economic welfare of the agricultural sector. In addition, there are related agricultural sectors that rely upon pollination-dependent crop production (fertilizers, pesticides, equipment) as well as non-agricultural industry sectors (pharmaceutical, fuel, real estate) that share complex linkages with crop production and agricultural sectors, leading to intricate indirect dependence upon pollination service mediated by both commercially-managed and wild species of bees and other insects throughout the economy.

We present an input-output (I-O) modeling based framework for quantifying the economic value of industry sectors attributable to insect-mediated pollination. Of pollination-dependent crops, each has a specific dependence upon insect-mediated pollination service. Using available field data, we first reconcile and update estimates of pollinator dependence coefficients for individual crops while explicitly quantifying uncertainty. Using publicly available data from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service), and reconciled pollinator dependence coefficients, we establish bounds on economic value of agricultural crops attributable to insect pollinators. This information is then used in conjunction with the 2012 Benchmark I-O account data to quantify the economic dependence of non-agricultural sectors on insect-mediated pollination. We focus specifically on the apple farming industry and recreate the apple farming supply chain. We disaggregate the fruit and nut farming sector to represent the apple farming sector with greater detail.

While the direct economic value of apples attributable to insect pollinators is 3 billion dollars, indirect economic dependence of non- agricultural sectors on insect pollinators is equally as significant, though lacking previous quantification. In addition, we further identify the industry sectors that are most vulnerable to loss of insect pollinators. This model allows for specificity in analyses of indirect economic impacts of pollination service mediated by insects by providing a framework for the incorporation of crop-specific dependence coefficients into sector expenditures. The results are compelling and highlight the need for better understanding the role of insect pollinators in life cycles of agricultural and non-agricultural products and processes.