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).
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid