Thanks to the fall armyworm, nearly all of Africa's maize crop is in jeopardy, finds a new study

The new projection was made using 3,175 geo-tagged occurrences and factoring in physiological and climatological requirements to geographically assess its range. They showed that almost 92 percent of Africa’s maize growing areas can mean year-round growth of fall armyworm while 95 percent are suitable for that plus pests like the maize stalk borer, Western corn rootworm and Asiatic witchweed.

That is a worry since January of 2016, when outbreaks of fall armyworm were first found in Nigerian maize fields and quickly spread to Benin, Togo São Tome and Principe. Now it is in over 40 African countries. To compound the problem, over half of the African maize is at risk from an additional nine pests, while over a third is susceptible to an additional 10 pests.

There are solutions, but Europe dictates to Africa what biological and chemical solutions Africa is allowed to use, and if Africans disobey their products are banned. Feeding its own is important for viability but exports are also needed. So Africa is in a Catch-22. Without scientific measures they risk $65 billion in yield losses but if they defy Europe they risk bans on any product made using advanced solutions like genetic engineering. The only thing European politicians and the environmental NGOs they fund want to allow are older, less effective (and costly) fungicides/insecticides.

These merchants of doubt are well-funded and use their billions in funding to keep people in a panic about science.

European NGOs and organic food corporations buy spots at the top of Google search to sway people against science. No wonder that before COVID-19 these groups led the charge against vaccines, they hate all science. Fraudulent groups like Swiss Public Eye even hate chemicals, which means they want all of Africa to be overrun by famine. Since they are government-funded and employ no minorities, it is a surprise anyone listens to them.

The authors recognize that genetic solutions and biological control agents are superior choices but getting Africa to defy Europe is challenging. So far,Burkina Faso, Egyp, South Africa and Sudan have been able to defy Europe's modern quasi-colonialism while a handful of others grow maize, cowpea, and even cash crops like cotton. Organic industry trade groups and the activists they fund have long said food grown by their competitors causes things like cancer and autism, but what difference can it make in cotton? You'd have to know as little science as an environmentalist to believe it.

Citation: Senay SD, Pardey PG, Chai Y, Doughty L and Day R (2022) Fall armyworm from a maize multi-peril pest risk perspective. Front. Insect Sci. 2:971396. DOI:10.3389/finsc.2022.971396