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Published March 6, 2014 03:22 PM

Crop Pests "Vastly Underestmated' Warns Study

The number of different pests plaguing crops in the developing world may be vastly underestimated, contributing to severely reduced harvests in some of the world's most important food-producing nations, say researchers.

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About 200 pests and pathogens per country fly under the radar of researchers and policymakers in the developing world due to a lack of technical capacity to detect them, according to a study.

"Highly-productive countries such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are likely to be harbouring hundreds more crop pests than currently known," says the study published in New Phytologist last month (11 February).

It adds that crop pests and pathogens pose a significant threat to global food security, with around one sixth of the world’s agricultural production lost to them each year.

The team used a statistical model to relate the known distribution of about 2,000 crop destroying-organisms in 195 countries to physical and socio-economic factors, such as agricultural production, climate, and research and development (R&D) expenditure.

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