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Fact sheet

Fact Check: Is two-thirds of Australia's food production reliant on bee pollination?

Bees Food industry and trade

A joint Fairfax-ABC investigation reported on allegations that a number of well-known brands of honey contained substitute ingredients. It featured fruit and vegetable magnate Robert Costa, who claimed two-thirds of Australia's food relied upon bee pollination. RMIT ABC Fact Check found Mr Costa's claim is overstated. Experts told Fact Check that crops reliant on bee pollination represented closer to 35 per cent (about one-third) of total food production. They said that although around 75 per cent of all crops get some benefit from pollination by bees, this was not simply a case of "all or nothing". Rather, the pollination by bee species provided varying degrees of benefit. Although honey bees and other bee species are an integral part of the pollination process for Australian crops and commercial pollinators, they are not the only insects involved in pollination. Flies and beetles, among other insects, as well as birds and bats, play a larger role than is often acknowledged. Also, some of Australia's most heavily consumed cereals ' wheat, oats and rice, for example ' are wind pollinated, whereby pollen is carried from plant to plant by the wind. Experts also cautioned about using the word "rely". Although a lot of crops did experience increased volumes and quality of fruit or seed set when bees were present, this did not mean there would be no product without them.
Verdict: Overstated

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