Report: Insects contribute at least $57 billion to U.S. economy
and World Science staff
Insects, through their work of pollination, pest control and other services, contribute at the very least $57 billion annually to the U.S. economy, a study has found.
That’s a just under one 200th of the nation’s gross domestic product. Put another way, it’s equivalent to the work of nearly 1.5 million people of average productivity in the United States.
“Most insects tirelessly perform functions that improve our environment and lives in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand,” said entomologist John Losey of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Losey co-authored the study, published in the current issue of the research journal Bioscience.
The study found that native insects are food for wildlife that supports a $50 billion recreation industry, provide more than $4.5 billion in pest control, pollinate $3 billion in crops and clean up grazing lands, which saves ranchers some $380 million a year.
These are “very conservative” estimates that probably represent only a fraction of the true value, said Losey.
The study is the first of its type, added Losey, whose co-author is Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Ore. The organization works to protect native insect habitats through education and research.
Insects are an integral part of a complex web of interactions that helps put food on our tables and remove our wastes. Humans—and probably most life on earth—would perish without insects, Vaughan said.
The study focused on the economic value of four services—wildlife nutrition, pest control, pollination and dung burial—chosen because solid data were available for analysis, Losey explained.
All this goes to show that protecting nature is part of protecting the economy, he added. “We know how to repair roads and other components of our physical infrastructure, but our biological infrastructure is vulnerable to degradation too,” he observed. “If we do not take care of it, it will break down and could seriously impact the economy.”
* * *
Send us a comment
on this story, or send
it to a friend