‘The review clearly shows that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges the plant health community is facing.’
According to a report from the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, there is a need for more research into the impact of climate change on pests and plant health, as well as investment in strengthening phytosanitary systems and structures.
The report: 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, which has been released as the International Year of Plant Health draws to its close in July 2021, indicates that due to climate change; plant pests that impact economically important crops are becoming more destructive, posing a threat to food security.
The review, by Professor Maria Lodovica, University of Turin, Italy, and ten co-authors from around the world, analysed 15 plant pests that have spread or are likely to spread due to climate change. Pests such as fall armyworm, which feed on crops including maize and millet, and Tephritid fruit flies, have already spread due to the warmer climate, the report says. It is anticipated that other pests, such as the desert locust, (the world’s most destructive migratory pest) will change their migratory routes and geographical distribution due to climate change.
The review stresses that pests are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves in a new territory, and managing them is time consuming and expensive. It also says that half of all emerging plant diseases are spread by global travel and trade, which has tripled in volume over the last decade, while weather is the second most important factor in the spread of disease.
As the report was launched, Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Qu Dongyu said: ‘The review clearly shows that the impact of climate change is one of the greatest challenges the plant health community is facing.’ Dongyu added: ‘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 FAO estimates that annually up to 40% of global crop production is lost to pests, and plant diseases cost the global economy over $220 billion while invasive insects cost at least $70 billion.