A study supported by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reveals that climate change is driving the spike in pest attacks on crops.
This has led to an increasing threat to food security and the environment.
The Scientific Review on the Impact of Climate Change on Plant Pests – A global challenge to prevent and mitigate plant pest risks in agriculture, forestry and ecosystems by Professor Maria Lodovica Gullino, University of Turin (Italy), and ten co-authors from around the world was prepared under the auspices of the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, hosted by FAO, and is one of the key initiatives of the International Year of Plant Health, which is coming to an end this month.
FAO estimates that annually up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost to pests.
Each year, plant diseases cost the global economy over $220 billion, and invasive insects at least $70 billion.
“The key findings of this review should alert all of us on how climate change may affect how infectious, distributed and severe pests can become around the world. The review clearly shows that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges the plant health community is facing.”QU Dongyu, DG of FAO
The review puts forward a number of recommendations to mitigate the impact of climate change on plant health.
Chief among them, increased international cooperation is deemed crucial as the effective management of plant pests by one farmer or one country affects the success of others.
Improved measures to limit the international spread of pests through trade and travel and adjustments to plant protection protocols are equally important.
The review also stresses the need for more research into the impact of climate change on pests and hence, on plant health; and for more investments in strengthening national phytosanitary systems and structures.