12 January - 20 June 2016

Researchers establish link between climate change and food safety

12 March 2015

Increasing temperature, precipitation and other effects of climate change can influence our food safety according to studies conducted for the Veg-i-Trade project. A special issue of Food Research International highlights the importance and current lack of research into this topic and provides some projections from scenario analyses. 

High temperature and flooding are beneficial for pathogen growth, survival and spreading, which harms the pre-harvest state of fresh fruits and vegetables. The effects are not just restricted to aiding pathogens, but also include aiding pests and increasing the susceptibility of plants to both pathogens and pests. In turn, these effects are projected to increase the use of pesticides causing further environmental contamination. An occurrence in Brazil is used as an example where, in 2004, excess rain was followed by an increase in a particular fungus which led to extended use of fungicides. 

It is also suggested that pesticide usage could be affected as well because high temperature increases the rate of degradation of the pesticides and low humidity reduces their activity. The researchers acknowledge that there is high variability between the geographical location, sector and companies when attempting to create projections of and responses to the issues.

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