Insect pollination: commodity values, trade and policy considerations using coffee as an example


  • Vernon George Thomas University of Guelph
  • Peter Kevan University of Guelph



Science has shown the importance of animal pollinators to human food security, economy, and biodiversity conservation. Science continues to identify various factors causing pollinator declines and their implications. However, translation of the understanding of pollinators’ roles into current policy and regulation is weak and requires attention, both in developed and developing nations. The national and international trade of commodities generated via insect pollination is large. Trade in those crops could be a means of influencing regulations to promote the local existence of pollinating species, apart from their contributions to biodiversity conservation. This paper, using the example of international coffee production, reviews the value of pollinating species, and relates them to simple economics of commodity production. Recommendations are made that could influence policy and decision-making to promote coffee production, trade, and pollinators’ existence. Assumptions and considerations are raised and addressed. Although the role of insect pollinators in promoting fruit set and quality is accepted, implementing pollination conservation in forest habitats may require assured higher prices for coffee, and direct subsidies for forest conservation to prevent conversion to other crop lands. Exporting and importing governments and trade organizations could establish policy that requires insect pollination in the coffee certification process. The European Parliament and the North American Free Trade Agreement could be instrumental in creating policy and regulation that promotes insect pollination services in coffee production. The reciprocity between the services of insect pollinators in certified coffee production and their services in forest biodiversity production should be implicit in future policy negotiations to enhance both systems.


cover image © V. Boreux

Author Biographies

Vernon George Thomas, University of Guelph

Professor Emeritus

Peter Kevan, University of Guelph

School of Environmental Sciences, Professor Emeritus




How to Cite

Thomas, V. G., & Kevan, P. (2012). Insect pollination: commodity values, trade and policy considerations using coffee as an example. Journal of Pollination Ecology, 7.




Most read articles by the same author(s)