|Actual monitoring and evaluation of damage caused by pests around the world are very poorly understood / Photo by Andriy Popov via 123RF|
Pests are unwanted insects, plants, animals, germs or other organisms that usually interfere with human activities. Most of the time, they destroy food crops, bite, damage property, or otherwise make our lives more difficult. Pest insects can also have damaging and adverse impacts on agricultural production, natural, and even our lifestyle. They cause problems by damaging crops and food production, being a nuisance, parasitizing livestock, and also a health hazard to humans.
Some reports showed that farmers lose an estimated average of 37% of their rice crops to pests every year. An article by the BBC also reported that the biological threat of pests accounts for about 40% loss in global production. They not only threaten the profit of millions of farmers around the world but they can also destabilize global food security. Unfortunately, actual monitoring and evaluation of damage caused by pests around the world are very poorly understood. This is despite a general consensus on the threats from pests and diseases to global production.
This is where the role of pesticides comes in. These are chemical substances that are essentially meant to kill pests. Most of the time, they are antimicrobial or disinfectant that kills, incapacitates, or deters unwanted pests on a farm or even in our houses. According to an article by the BYJU'S, the use of pesticides is often treated similarly to plant production product. Commonly, they are being used to control or eliminate a variety of agricultural pests that can reduce farm productivity and damage crops.
|Pest management control practices are important in food regulation, food sanitation, health regulations, and many more / Photo by Andriy Popov via 123RF|
Using Pest Management Control Through Pesticides
Given the damage that pests can do in global food production, it is important that we acknowledge the significance of pest management. According to an article by Westex Pest Management, there are several reasons why. One is that nearly 20% of the food supply around the world is consumed by rodents. These rodents are also prime carriers of other dangerous pests such as ticks, fleas, and mites.
Indeed, pest management control practices are important in food regulation, food sanitation, health regulations, and many more. One of these most popular ways is using pesticides that are being utilized even before. In fact, many ancient civilizations are using pesticides to protect their crops from pests and insects. For instance, Chinese people used arsenic and mercury compounds to control body lice and other pests. The ancient Sumerians protected their crops from insects through elemental sulfur.
Eventually, chemically related pesticides were developed, such as organophosphate, carbamate, organochlorine insecticides, pyrethroid, sulfonylurea herbicides, and many more. Most of the time, the chemicals of these pesticides affected the environment aside from their target. They could enter the water, air, sediments, and even our food. Wrong use of these agents could also decrease the general biodiversity in the soil. High soil quality is necessary for plants to grow but it can't be the case if the soil has chemicals.
Additionally, more people are becoming exposed to low levels of pesticide residues because of the widespread use of agricultural chemicals in food production. Since the pest management industry is large, these problems can worsen if not addressed properly. In fact, the United States spends over $6 billion in pest control services. It is important that pest management control is taken seriously to protect the public from health hazards and other risks involved with all kinds of pests.
Researchers Develop a Non-Toxic Pest Control
Although pesticides with many chemicals can kill pests, there's no guarantee that the environment you are living will be safe. Fortunately, Dr. Konstantin Blyuss, a mathematician from the University of Sussex, had developed a non-toxic pest control that can improve crop production without harming other insects and even our environment. According to an article by the Science Daily, this discovery can boost organic food production, help feed a growing global population, and drive bio-fuel production.
This major breakthrough in the pest management control can kill specific microscopic worms without harming other insects and animals. In an interview, Dr. Blyuss said, "With a rising global population needing to be fed, and an urgent need to switch from fossil fuels to biofuels, our research is an important step forward in the search for environmentally safe crop protection, which doesn't harm bees or other insects."
The harmful nematodes are specifically targeted by this new development since it can damage an estimated average of $130 billion worth of crops. The new non-toxic pest control can help protect plants against harmful nematodes. The team of researchers has “RNA interference” (RNAi) to precisely target a species of the pests that harm wheat. Dr. Blyuss explained that "a nematode, like all other living organisms, requires some proteins to be produced to survive and make offspring, and RNA interference is a process that stops, or silences, the production of these."
Additionally, by using biostimulants derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria, the researchers have developed a method to control the nematode's genes. These biostimulants not only do that but also eliminate a plant's own genes that are affected by the pests.