by Vittoria D'alessio, Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine
Some vitally important European crops like vines and olives are being devastated by disease. Scientists are searching for biological replacements for chemical pesticides to improve crop and human health.
The threat to agriculture from invasive species is huge. The United Nations (UN) estimates that plant disease costs the world's economy over €200 billion per year, with 20–40% of crop production lost to pests.
"The economic loss from invasive species is immense, and if we took no action, there would be a huge amount of food insecurity, not only across the EU but across the globe," said Dr. Hikmate Abriouel, professor of microbiology at Universidad de Jaén in Spain's Andalucía.
With the stakes so high, it's easy to understand why the agricultural sector is one of the largest users of chemicals worldwide.
The question of food security is uppermost these days. But, as Dr. Abriouel goes on to explain, our growing reluctance to use chemicals in agriculture adds a layer of complication to farming.