2 September 2013 – Researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Oxford have revealed in a new study that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year. The study made significant use of historical records held by CABI – the CABI Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, and of Plant Diseases – which document crop pests and diseases around the world from 1822 to the present day.

Published in Nature, the research shows a strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests. Furthermore, it suggests that these figures will continue to increase if global temperatures rise as predicted.

The collection of data is vital to understanding the spread of crop pests and CABI continues in its key role as a centre for this activity. This includes the new CABI-led Plantwise programme which, through plant clinics and a knowledge bank, assists developing countries collect and analyse local plant pest records. It is hoped that as these records grow, pest reporting and forecasting will become even more detailed in future.

The study on crop pests advancing with global warming is available on the Nature website and the BBC also covered the research.