A new global pandemic could wipe out the world’s food supply within days, scientists have warned.
Key points:Dr Anthony Watts and his team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have warned that the world could soon be in a world without foodSource: UNSW article Scientists have warned the world may soon be facing a new global crisis caused by a new type of bacteria known as the coronavirus.
The coronaviruses “will become increasingly transmissible, potentially making the global food supply untenable in the near future”, a report from the UNSW Institute of Biogeochemistry and Molecular Biology has said.
“We have to expect that the number of cases will rise, that food will become more expensive, and the number and types of food-borne diseases will increase,” Dr Watts said.
A new type, dubbed the coronivirus-19-1, has emerged in recent weeks, making it more difficult for coronavids to reach our food chain, with the virus making its way into the human diet and infecting more people.
“The virus is not just coming from one country or region, but is evolving in a variety of ways,” Dr Anthony Watts said on the UNSWA campus on Monday.
“It has become increasingly complex, and its transmissibility and spread has become more difficult to control.”
The new coronaviroids are “the most transmissible form of coronaviral disease on earth”, the report says.
The new virus can infect people with a range of conditions, including:The coroniviral strains are “unusually resistant to many commonly used antiviral therapies”, such as antibiotics, and pose a serious threat to health, particularly for children.
“The new variant of coroniviruses are a global threat that has the potential to spread rapidly across the globe,” Dr James Silliman, the UN’s executive director of emergency preparedness and response, said.
There is no vaccine yet, and people need to remain vigilant and get tested if they have been exposed to the virus.
The report says the world will be in danger of “overpopulation”, with “a rapidly rising global population”.
The study also predicts that the global population will reach 10 billion people by 2050.
“By the end of the century, the global human population will be almost twice as large as it is now, and by 2050 it will be twice as big as it was at the end, and a third as big if the global trends continue,” Dr Sillaman said.
Dr Watts said the virus had become a “powerful and pervasive threat to human health” and “has made a significant contribution to global warming”.
“This is the biggest challenge facing our species, and our global food system,” he said.