Pollinator-dependent production of food nutrients in China has not been evaluated previously. Using Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) crop production data and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food composition data, we examined the nutritional values of 41 common fruits and vegetables to assess the contribution of animal pollination to human nutrition. Most of these crops rely on insect pollinators to set fruit or seed to some degree. Pollinator-dependent plants yielded more than 80% of the protein, fat, zinc, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, vitamin B1 and vitamin B5, over 90% of the dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, almost the entire quantity of alpha-carotene and beta-tocopherol, and the full amount of beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene. On average, pollinator-dependent crops accounted for approximately 80% of the food nutrients produced by the plants surveyed in this study, and 20% of all nutrient output was directly derived from insect pollination. Careful management of insect pollinator populations is therefore of vital importance to providing a nutritionally adequate diet for the people of China.
Key words: China, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food nutrients, fruits, insect pollinators, vegetables.
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