News / Science & Technology

Crop Pests, Diseases Move to Higher Latitudes

Warmer conditions brought on by climate change are producing more hospitable environments for pests such as the emerald ash borer (seen here).
Warmer conditions brought on by climate change are producing more hospitable environments for pests such as the emerald ash borer (seen here).
Insects and diseases that attack food crops are moving to higher latitudes as climate change alters their habitats, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change.

With the bulk of the world’s agricultural production today taking place in the temperate zones, the study raises questions about future food security in a warming world.

Plant diseases alone claim an estimated 10 to 16 percent of the world’s crops in the field, experts say, and destroy another 6 to 12 percent after harvest.

Meanwhile, research has shown wild plants and animals are moving toward the poles as the planet gets warmer.

And the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting northward its map of zones suitable for growing certain crops.

“That got us thinking,” said biologist Dan Bebber at the University of Exeter in Britain. “Is a similar process occurring with pests and pathogens that attack our agricultural crops?”

Hundreds of pests

To find out, Bebber turned to reports of first sightings of new insects and diseases around the world. The data came from the agriculture research organization CABI, which began collecting the information from developing and industrialized countries about a century ago and now tracks hundreds of pests and pathogens around the world.

Bebber and his colleagues studied 612 of them - from viruses and bacteria to beetles and butterflies - and found that since 1960, they had shifted toward the poles at an average rate of about 3 kilometers per year.

That puts some of the most productive farmland in the world in danger.

“As new species of pests and diseases evolve and potentially the environment for them becomes more amenable at higher latitudes, the pressure on the breadbaskets of the world is going to increase,” Bebber said.

Invasive hospitality

Farmers have other emerging threats to deal with, as well. Invasive species introduced through global trade and mobility also are a threat to crops. Entomologist Gene Kritsky at Ohio's College of Mount St. Joseph said climate change may make the environment more hospitable for some invasive species.

“It means that species in other parts of the world that might do well in warmer temperatures can now do well in the breadbasket of America.”

Kritsky was not involved in the research, but said it confirms what he’s seen in the field. He added that more species will be able to survive the winters at higher latitudes as temperatures increase.

'We should do something'

Entomologist Christian Krupke at Purdue University in Indiana pointed out that the effects of these shifts will depend very much on the crop, the pest and the disease.

But he said that the research is another warning sign of what may be in store for the future.  

“I think a lot of these papers are all pointing in the same direction that are all saying, ‘OK, we should care about climate change. We should do something other than zero,’” he said.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John M from: Annapolis, MD
September 05, 2013 7:22 PM
Climate change is occurring at a faster rate than many species are able to adapt. http://clmtr.lt/cb/wST0bJd

by: Babu G. Ranganathan
September 04, 2013 10:34 AM
GLOBAL WARMING MAY NOT BE MAN MADE
Dr. Larry Vardiman (scientist and physicist) of the Institue for Creation Research says:

"One possible scenario may be found in a recent series of articles by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Marsh, cosmic ray specialists from Denmark, who have shown an indirect connection between galactic cosmic ray (GCR) intensity and global temperature.7,8,9 They are studying the influence of the Sun on the flow of GCR to Earth. The Sun's changing sunspot activity influences the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth permitting more GCR to strike the Earth during high periods of activity.

When the Sun is active, the intensity of GCR striking the Earth is increased, causing more ionization in the atmosphere, creating more carbon-14, and possibly creating more cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). This increase in CCN, in turn, appears to create more low-level clouds which cool the Earth. When the Sun is quiet the GCR intensity striking the Earth is reduced, allowing the Earth to warm. Svensmark and Marsh have shown a striking statistical correlation between sunspot activity and global cooling and warming over the past 1000 years.

The recent rise in global temperature may partially be due to current low solar activity supplemented by a recent increase in carbon dioxide concentration measured at Mauna Loa. The connection which still needs further study is the production of CCN and clouds by GCR." There is a good deal of science showing that global warming is not mad made. Yes, we still should have pollution controls, as we already do, but not to the extreme because it will unnecessarily hurt business. Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION
Babu G. Ranganathan
B.A. Bible/Biology
Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs