A new U.K study warns that humanity could face a famine of biblical proportions by 2050 due to a plague of pests brought on by climate change. Research from the University of Exeter published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography paints a picture of crop producing countries saturated with pests by the middle of the century. The plague of pests pose a ‘grave threat to global food security,’ according to Dr. Dan Bebber of the Biosciences department at the University of Exeter.

food, security, pest, threat, global, warming, famine, crops, farming, agriculture, biosciences

The study used global databases to describe patterns and trends in the spread of crop pests like fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and ascomycetes. The results show that many of the world’s most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue. More than one-in-ten pest types have already been found in half the countries that grow the pests’ host crops, and if the spread advances at its current rate researchers fear pests will overwhelm a significant proportion of global crop-producing countries within the next 30 years.

“If crop pests continue to spread at current rates, many of the world’s biggest crop producing nations will be inundated by the middle of the century, posing a grave threat to global food security,” Bebber told The Daily Mail. According to the study, the most invasive of the pests include the tropical root knot nematode, which can infect thousands of different plant species with its larvae. Another is Blumeria graminis, a fungus that causes powdery mildew on wheat and other grains.

Related: Crop-Ravaging Worm Evolves to Eat Bioengineered Corn

At least one scientist sees some positive news in the grave findings of this research. “By unlocking the potential to understand the distribution of crop pests and diseases, we’re moving one step closer to protecting our ability to feed a growing global population,” Dr. Timothy Holmes, Head of Technical Solutions at the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International told The Daily Mail. “The hope is to turn data into positive action.”

Via The Daily Mail

Lead image via Shutterstock. Other images via carvel and cimmyt, Flickr Creative Commons