One virus captured all the attention. In turn, could we talk about plant pandemics, for example, asks journalist Anni Pasanen in her column.
I acknowledge: I wouldn’t be able to read the news about the coronavirus anymore. I haven’t been able to stand for a long time. New information that is not directly relevant to your daily life, such as face masks or taking a vaccine, is already easily passed away.
I am hardly the only one.
Not that the subject is still not burningly important. Watching the half-hearted past is just easy anyway. It is known that the further away the problem is, the easier it becomes.
A good example: while man is struggling with the coronavirus, plants and animals also have their own diseases that spread in complete silence like a pandemic.
I know, thinking like that certainly doesn’t seem meaningful right now. Why worry about the plague plaguing you when a huge number of people are lying in the world’s power departments?
For example, because some of these diseases pose a greater threat to humanity than the coronavirus.
From 2020 was to become the International Year of Plant Health. Yes, planthealth.
The UN had time to declare such a topic, but then everyone had something else to think about.
It’s a pity. The connecting organisms would also have been given a slice of attention. Corona infection has been diagnosed in less than 200 million people, but more than 800 million are at risk of food shortages.
One major reason is plant diseases. Today, they harvest up to tens of percent of the crops of major crops such as wheat, rice, and corn.
The problem has been predicted to worsen, and it is largely man-made. Current agriculture favors huge plantations that stick out one variety to the uninhabitable. If a plague slips into a field that plants lack resistance to, the trail is devastating.
With trade and tourism, pathogens are spreading rapidly around the world. Climate change, on the other hand, is increasing hurricanes, which are also transporting diseases from one region to another. For example, in 2004, spores that cause soybean rust spread from Hurricane Ivan from South America to the United States.
Population growth adds to the problem. As a result, there would be less and less room for crop damage.
If an exceptionally devastating plant pandemic will one day strike, it has similarities with the coronavirus: experts have talked about the risks in advance, but still the preparedness is inadequate.
There would be some warning examples. Cocoa peat versa virus has sown considerable devastation in West Africa – an area where about 70 percent of the world ‘s cocoa is grown. Rust has swept entire coffee plantations into non-existence in Central and South America and taken livelihoods from hundreds of thousands.
The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa has collapsed olive cultivation in southern Italy, a piece of a thousand-year-old cultural history. Cavendish, almost the only banana variety eaten in the West, could disappear from store shelves in the future due to Panama’s disease. And so on.
Why is there so little talk about this in the West? Because the worst effects, such as famines, hit the world’s poorest corners.
Coronary pandemic is an immeasurable tragedy, but it does not wipe humanity off the planet. Not even individual villages.
Animals are different. Some of their communicable diseases threaten to eradicate entire species.
This problem has also been exacerbated by man traveling and trading. The most devastating of the killers is the fungal disease cytridioomycosis, which has driven more than 200 frog species around the world to extinction or on the verge of it.
There are also well-known domestic examples, such as crab plague. It’s one of those nasty stories where bad mistakes are patched up with more and more spooky mistakes.
The disease caused by algae began to spread in Europe in the late 19th century due to crab, trade and crab transplants. It arrived in Finland from Russia in 1893 and destroyed crayfish from many waters – the only native crab species that has lived here for millennia.
Salvation was not in sight.
Until one summer day in 1960, a possible one landed at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. Spotted crabs that had been flown out of California appeared to be immune to crab plague.
In addition, they got along well in Swedish lakes, so the species began to be planted extensively in the waters. The example was soon followed elsewhere in Europe, including Finland.
Plantings were supposed to be the solution, but they were something completely different. The mistake was irreversible.
It turned out that spotted crabs carry the plague almost always, usually asymptomatically. The lake where the alien species lives is finally invaded by the disease.
The native crayfish is still suffering from a mistake, after all, the plague is fatal to it. The species was identified as very endangered in Finland in 2019.
Not even these information is happy to multiply, not really. But at least they make you look for a moment at a wider information landscape that has been captured for more than a year by a single disease topic.
And maybe also to proportion. The coronavirus has revolutionized the former way of life, but in the end it is a disease tsunami that is shaking the world among many others.