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February 25th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Plant pests and diseases are significantly reducing yields of five major food crops across the globe, underscoring the critical need to develop new resistant varieties, according to a new study.

Some 137 pathogens and pests cause losses of 10 to 40 percent in the staple crops — wheat, maize (corn), soybeans, rice and potatoes — that provide about 50 percent of the calorie intake among the world’s humans, according to the study published in Nature, Ecology & Evolution.

“For chronic pathogens and pests, we need to redouble our efforts to deliver more efficient and sustainable management tools, such as resistant varieties,” said study co-author Neil McRoberts, who is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis, and co-leader of UC’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Sustainable Food Systems Strategic Initiative. “For emerging or re-emerging pathogens and pests, urgent action is needed to contain them and generate longer term solutions.” Read more