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The rising popularity of foods which rely on pollinating insects to grow – such as citrus fruits, avocados and soybeans – are a threat to global food security, experts have warned. Over the last 40 years crop diversity has been in decline, as farmers have prioritised growing the most sought-after foods, such as soybeans and palm oil. But more than 75 per cent of the crops which have seen the largest increase in production require pollination – while insect populations are dwindling. Harmful farming practices are largely to blame; a lack of crop diversity means flowers are in bloom for a limited window of time, reducing opportunities for insects to gain nutrition and having a knock on effect on food security.

Climate change and conflict are already causing widespread hunger across the globe, with 821 million people undernourished in 2017, but farming practices harmful to biodiversity could exacerbate this trend.

“Farmers are growing more crops that require pollination, such as fruits, nuts and oil seeds, because there's an increasing demand for them and they have a higher market value,” said David Inouye, professor of biology at the University of Maryland and co-author of the research published in Global Change Biology.