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Climate change will impact food safety: study

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Climate change will have an impact on crop production, food security and food safety, says a new study, but it's not all doom and gloom

Ghent, Belgium – Researchers in Belgium and The Netherlands have found that climate change will affect food security and safety.

Mieke Uyttendaele from Ghent University in Belgium, and Nynke Hofstra from the Wageningen University and Research Centre in EarthRaindropFreePics300x195Wageningen, The Netherlands, published their findings in a special issue of the journal Food Research International in February.

The researchers’ work is part of the Veg-i-Trade project, which is funded by the European Union. Veg-i-Trade exists to assess the impact of anticipated climate change and globalization on the safety issues concerning fresh produce and derived food products.

This latest study, as well as many other studies, asks: when our environment changes in the future, will it still be possible to produce safe food? Scientists from all over the world, says Ghent University, are conducting research with this question in mind, including those involved in the Veg-i-Trade project.


What the researchers found was that climate change may jeopardize food security in several ways.

When it gets warmer, there is a higher risk of contamination and growth of pathogens. Fungi are more likely to grow, so more pesticides may be used.

In case of heavy rainfall, the irrigation water or cultivation itself may be contaminated with bacteria.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, say the researchers. Strong UV radiation from the sun and the many bacteria that are naturally present in the plant can also disable these unwanted germs quickly.

Veg-i-Trade, reports, says an initial study into toxic substances from fungi, for example, shows that for Poland an increased risk of tomato contamination is to be expected at the end of the 21st century. In Spain, on the other hand, it will become too hot for those fungi, which could cause the risk of contamination to be smaller there. Another study found that in areas that could see increased flooding, flooded lettuce fields, for example, could see increased harmful bacteria. These concentrations could decrease quickly due to UV light.

For more on the study, click here.

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Main image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

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