Study calls for fungal disease control

Report voices global food security warning after finding increasing severity and scale of infection.

Better control of fungal diseases in crops would have a huge impact on the world's ability to feed itself, a new study has found.

The study, published this month in the journal Nature and part-funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, found that fungal infections destroy at least 125 million tonnes of the world's top five food crops, which include potatoes.

Instances of fungal diseases have been increasing in severity and scale since the middle of the 20th century, largely due to trade and travel, and now pose a serious danger to global food security, biodiversity and ecosystem health, according to the report.

The authors call for tighter control of trade in plant and animal products that spread disease and more research into tools to predict emerging infections to halt the spread of diseases that are currently geographically isolated.

University of Oxford professor Sarah Gurr said: "We are woefully inadequate at controlling emergence and proliferation of fungal attack. We must have better funding channelled into the fight."

Losses On the rise

The study found that fungal agents were behind more than two-thirds of plant and animal extinctions from infectious diseases and that this rate is currently rising.

Huge losses of bats to fungal infections are estimated to cost US $3.7bn a year in lost pest control in the USA alone.

Meanwhile, trees lost to fungi also hit annual absorption of carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect, the study warned.

 

Download the paper - "Emerging fungal threats to animal, plant and ecosystem health".


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Is leaving the EU an opportunity to harness the potential of agri-tech?

Is leaving the EU an opportunity to harness the potential of agri-tech?

A group of leading industry and research figures has agreed a series agri-tech measures that will be recommended to Government as a means of making British farming more profitable and productive post-Brexit.

What do fruit and vegetable growers hope for from a renationalised farming policy?

What do fruit and vegetable growers hope for from a renationalised farming policy?

Defra's "Health & Harmony" consultation paper, which closed for responses this week, has given growers and their representative bodies a chance to shape the largest reformulation of farming and land-use policy in nearly half a century.

Protected Cropping Structures - Polytunnels

Protected Cropping Structures - Polytunnels

Cost factors, ventilation benefits and the ability to fit new advanced films are some of the reasons behind the popularity of these structures, says Sally Drury.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive ranking of fruit producers by annual turnover. 

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon