In eastern North America a species of weed has become an aggressive invader. Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one of the most rapidly increasing woodland invasive plant species, spreading across northeastern and midwestern USA and southeastern Canada ata rate of nearly 2,500 square miles per year.
The plant was most likely introduced to North America in the 19th century, taken from its native habitat of Eurasia by settlers for medicinal and culinary use. Although the crushed leaves and seeds of garlic mustard smell like cultivated garlic and have been used as flavouring in cooking for centuries, the plant actually belongs to the cabbage family.
Aflatoxins are a group of toxins produced by certain fungi found in crops such as maize, peanuts, cottonseed and tree nuts. The fungi responsible, Aspergillus flavus, can contaminate crops before and after harvest as well as contaminate animal products if infected feeds are given to livestock.
Consumption of these toxins in high concentrations can contribute to stunting growth in children and cause liver illness with fatal consequences. Estimates of deaths due to aflatoxin ingestion range up to 100,000 or more per year worldwide.
One in four people in Europe suffer from hay fever, affecting the quality of life of millions. The average cost of hay fever related diseases amounts to around €600 per patient per year from treatment costs and lost time working.
One of the worst offending invasive plants for hay fever sufferers is the North American common ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia.
Balochistan province is famous for producing apples, contributing more than 80% to the total apple production in Pakistan, and therefore has a significant impact on the household income of farmers in the region. However, apples are also prone to infestation by a number of different pests, of which the apple codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is of major concern.
One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health (#OneHealth) Day on November 3rd 2016
"It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet." – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:
‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.
This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.