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Originally published September 7 2014

Global famine by 2050 as pest explosion overtakes world's food crops

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Some regions of the world could starve while others fight for their remaining food as pests overwhelm crops in less than 40 years, a new study has found.

Many of the world's leading crop-producers are likely to be inundated if current trends continue, the study concluded.

As reported by Britain's Daily Mail, more than 1 in 10 types of pests have already been identified in about half of the countries that grow their own host crops. And scientists fear that if the spread continues to advance at its current rate, "a significant proportion of global crop-producing countries will be overwhelmed by pests" by 2050, according to the paper.

Researchers from the University of Exeter in England published their findings recently in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. The report describes patterns and trends regarding the spread of pests that can ravage crops, using global databases to examine the elements that have influenced the number of countries targeted by pests and the number of them in each locale. Pests include bacteria, nematodes, fungi, viroids, insects and oomycetes.


"If crop pests continue to spread at current rates, many of the world's biggest crop producing nations will be inundated by the middle of the century, posing a grave threat to global food security," Dr. Dan Bebber of the biosciences department at the University of Exeter said.

As reported by the Daily Mail:

The study identifies the pests likely to be the most invasive in coming years, which includes three species of tropical root knot nematode whose larvae infect the roots of thousands of different plant species.

Another, Blumeria graminis, is a fungus that causes powdery mildew on wheat and other cereals.

Also, the Citrus tristeza virus, which means "sadness" in Portuguese and Spanish, is a threat as well, researchers said, having been discovered now in 105 of 145 countries that are growing citrus, as of 2000.

The scientific team said that fungi was leading the world's crop invasion and it is the most widely dispersed group, though it has the narrowest range of hosts.

The researchers examined the current distributions of 1,901 crop pests and pathogens, as well as the historical observations of another 424 species. The team made great use of historical CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) records, which list the number of crop pests and diseases the world over, from 1822 to the present day.

"By unlocking the potential to understand the distribution of crop pests and diseases, we're moving one step closer to protecting our ability to feed a growing global population," Dr. Timothy Holmes, Head of Technical Solutions at CABI's Plantwise Knowledge Bank, told the paper. "The hope is to turn data into positive action."

'New, virulent types of pests are always evolving'

This latest research supports previous studies which claim that climate change is likely to substantially affect the presence of pests in agriculture; as the earth warms, various studies show, that will have a clear influence on the distribution of crop pests [though new data recently published shows that there has been no global warming for the past 19 years:].

The latest pest study scientists described a global game of "catch me if you can," as increasingly, crops that had been introduced into regions that are free of pests and initially thrived were eventually inundated with pests once more.

Prof. Sarah Gurr of the University of Exeter said, "New, virulent variants of pests are constantly evolving. Their emergence is favoured by increased pest population sizes and their rapid life-cycles, which force diversified selection and heralds the appearance of new aggressive genotypes."

"There is hope if robust plant protection strategies and biosecurity measures are implemented, particularly in the developing world where knowledge is scant," she added.

"Whether such precautions can slow or stop this process remains to be seen."


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