it isn't unusual for a scholarly study to limit it's scope and not address other related phenomena. the lack of full disclosure about previous funding and this chap's bee-related business is pretty shady, though.
also, that "pollinates a third of all the food we eat" line made it into yet another article. I do not believe that figure is remotely accurate and it's disappointing to me that it gets thrown around so much by reputable news outlets who obviously aren't researching the original source of that claim.
Hmm, tel, what number would you use instead of "one-third"?
I know most grains are wind-pollinated, and obviously meat is not pollinated at all. Are you thinking that rather than one-third of all food, it should be one-third of fruits and vegetables? (that would seem low to me). Or what?
I would not think of this guy as being consciously corrupt and for sale to the highest bidder. But the milieu in which just about all scientists work today means that the folks with money often find out what they want to find out, and don't find out what they don't want to find out.
jacqueg wrote: Hmm, tel, what number would you use instead of "one-third"?
I wouldn't use a number. I really haven't done enough research and don't have enough knowledge to make that determination. but I'll hazard an educated guess that Katherine Eban, the author of this article, doesn't have that knowledge, either.
I have a couple of objections to the one third claim.
first is that it is ambiguous enough as to be meaningless. one third by volume? one third by weight? one third by species? one third by economic value? one third by land in production? one third by calories? and is that a global number or is it regional?
second is that there are very few plants, if any, that are pollinated exclusively by honey bees. if the claim was that one third of human food requires animal pollination or even insect pollination, it would probably be closer to the truth. because while it's true that in large almond and other orchards, honey bees are the only insect allowed to live, many other critters are capable pollinators. many are rather more capable than honey bees. and is that European honey bees (Apis mellifera), or are the other six species of true honey bees included as well?
this blog post and the comments address that first objection. this wikipedia list informs my second objection. I can't imagine that list is exhaustive, but look for plants only pollinated by honey bees and you'll get the idea.
maybe I'm picking nits. that claim wasn't central to the article you linked, but seeing it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the quality of the journalism. it's probably a ubiquitous enough claim that the author didn't think it worthwhile to find out if it is at all accurate or even meaningful. and I could almost let her off the hook for it. but I think journalists, even online journalists, probably shouldn't be repeating things without thinking them through and verifying their facts. the same goes for the author's editor, supposing she has one.
despite that error, I'm glad somebody is calling attention to this issue.