Clearing habitat near farms does not reduce pathogen crop contamination

Photo Credit: Jonathan Siberry Photo Credit: Jonathan Siberry

A new study published by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the practice of removing surrounding habitat from farms does not reduce crop contamination from disease causing pathogens such as E. coli. Previous pathogen contaminations were assumed to occur when wild animals defecated in crop fields, thereby leading to contamination. While this theory was never tested, the concern led to the clearing of wild plants surrounding farms to discourage wildlife from living near and potentially entering farms. Scientists analyzed almost 250,000 tests conducted between 2007 and 2013 in the U.S. and Central and South America to shed light on the contamination risk actually caused by wildlife habitat surrounding farms. Results showed that removing vegetation surrounding farms did not lower the prevalence of E. coli or Salmonella.