Why a global insect decline affects us all

Insects crucial for ecosystem functioning and food production

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A comprehensive review of insect declines around the world gives a stark picture of the scale of the declines and the consequences both for ecology and human welfare. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, warns that 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct within a few decades under current trends. And the loss of this diversity could lead to dramatic increases in pest insects which harm food production and human health.

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Meet the ‘sorcerer’ and her ‘apprentice’ – just two of CABI’s trailblazing female scientists

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Suzy Wood and Dr Carol Ellison are just two female scientists at CABI playing their part towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

To mark the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science today (11 February 2019), we take a look at how two generations of female scientists are coming together to tackle non-native invasive weeds and help reduce environmental degradation

Meet the ‘sorcerer’ and her ‘apprentice’ Dr Carol Ellison, a plant pathologist at CABI, and Project Scientist and PhD student Suzy Wood who since 2011 has been learning her trade as an entomologist at CABI’s UK laboratories in Egham, Surrey.

Though Carol and Suzy practice different strands of biology, their fields of study do overlap when it comes to invasive weeds and their biological control and management.

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“The future for women (in science) is ours to conquer”

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Photo courtesy of Moving Minds Media: Catherine Mloza Banda says the motivation to work in science came from her father who is a Professor in Agronomy

To mark the forthcoming UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February 2019), we speak to some of CABI’s women working in science. In this blog Catherine Mloza Banda, a Development Communications Specialist – Invasive Species Management, reveals the motivation and inspiration behind her career in science communications and says ‘the future for women (in science) is ours to conquer’. 

What motivated you to work in science and development?

I was motivated to work in science because of my father, who is a Professor in Agronomy. I grew up in an agricultural college, which somehow shaped my ambitions to work in science. I enrolled for a degree in Crop Science. Midway, I realized I had a burning passion for media and communications. So I decided to pursue a career in agricultural communication.

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“I was and still am motivated by discoveries and surprises that come with science”

 

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Lucy Karanja: the reward for being ‘best in science’ at school was a first aid course with St John Ambulance

To mark the forthcoming UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February 2019), we speak to some of CABI’s women working in science. In this blog Lucy Karanja, a Content Manager, reveals the motivation and inspiration behind her career in science communications and says ‘women are all round scientists naturally’. 

What motivated you to work in science and development?

My parents were business people and I did not know anybody in our village who was a scientist. I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up because I admired the way pupils respected teachers. In class 8, we were given a multiple choice science quiz and guess what? I miraculously got 18 out of 20. There were four boys and I was the only girl.

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Can a ‘diet’ of digital data really help feed the world?

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Last week (29 January 2019) CABI was awarded a $1.49 million grant from the Gates Foundation to work with them to help increase food security in India and Ethiopia through better access to data on soil health, agronomy and fertilizers.  In this blog Communications Manager Wayne Coles looks at whether or not the use of digital data in agriculture can have a real impact on our need to feed the world….

The facts are clear; if we’re to stand any chance of feeding a global population of around 9.1 billion by 2050 we must make better use of ‘digital data’ to unlock the potential of more than 570 million smallholder farmers around the world.

The complexity of Africa’s growing food problem, which is exacerbated by social and climatic factors, should not be underestimated. Its population, for example, will exceed 42 million a year over the next three decades while a rise in extreme weather events will wreak havoc on farming communities already grappling with threats to crop yields from a range of agricultural pests and diseases.

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Cabbage stem flea beetle and aphids are the curse of every farmer, but CABI and CHAP may have a solution

 

Psylliodes chrysocephala (cabbage stem flea beetle); adult.
Crop pest: The cabbage stem flea beetle – Psylliodes chrysocephalus

By 2050 there could be as many as 10 billion mouths to feed across the world. This is now a much-repeated fact, as is the growing demand for sustainable produce with reduced chemical inputs and environmental impact. In short, there is a need to produce more and more food, with fewer and fewer inputs to protect the environment, increase productivity and minimise costs.

This is where CHAP (Crop Health and Protection), based at Sand Hutton near York, one of the Government’s four Agri-Tech Centres, supported by Innovate UK, comes in. It has been charged with the task of finding scientific and technological solutions to the practical problems facing growers. Working with its 12 Partners, one of which is CABI working from its laboratories based in Egham in Surrey, its priority is to develop and trial solutions to transform crop production so that they can be brought to market on a large scale.

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What’s it like doing a PhD with CABI?

In this Q&A article we hear from three PhD students who have collectively spent over 11 years studying at the CABI Switzerland centre in Delémont working with scientists there to improve the monitoring and management of invasive species in Europe and Africa.

Find out from Judith Stahl, Benno Augustinus and Theo Linders about what they did, who they worked with and what’s in store after CABI.

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