Effects on Pests

As crops adapt to climatic change, so will pests. Climate change will favor invasive pests adapted to the new conditions that may devastate the native crops that were never bred to resist them. Periodic episodes of climate change due to the El Niño phenomenon provide a living example of what may happen. In Peru's Cañete Valley, the El Niño episode of 1997-1998 caused temperatures to increase by 3-5 °C and triggered torrential rainfall. This combination coincided with the first discovery of an aggressive new variant of the white fly pest, Bemisia tabaci and also the invasion of a species not found there before, Bemisia afer (CIP 2001). These species became established and remained even after the El Niño ended, plaguing the important sweet potato and other crops there. This example shows that reinvigorated efforts in integrated pest management and crop resistance breeding will be required to keep up with global climate change.

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