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Biological weed control to relieve millions from ambrosia allergies in Europe

Schaffner, U., Steinbach, S., Sun, Y., Skjøth, C. ORCID:, de Weger, L., Lommen, S., Augustinus, B., Bonini, M., Karrer, G, Sikoparija, B., Thibaudon, M. and Müller-Schärer, H. (2020) Biological weed control to relieve millions from ambrosia allergies in Europe. Nature Communications, 11. Article no. 1745. ISSN 2041-1723

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Invasive alien species (IAS) can substantially affect ecosystem services and human well-being. However, quantitative assessments of their impact on human health are rare, and the benefits of implementing sustainable IAS management likely to be underestimated. Here we report the effects of the allergenic plant Ambrosia artemisiifolia on public health in Europe and the potential impact of the accidentally introduced leaf beetle Ophraella communa on the number of patients and healthcare costs. We find that, prior to the establishment of O. communa, some 13.5 million persons suffered from Ambrosia-induced allergies in Europe, causing costs of Euro 7.4 billion annually. Our projections reveal that biological control of A. artemisiifolia will reduce the number of patients by approximately 2.3 million and the health costs by Euro 1.1 billion per year. Our conservative calculations indicate that the currently discussed economic costs of IAS underestimate the real costs and thus also the benefits from biological control.

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: biological weed control, Ambrosia, allergies, Europe, invasive alien species, IAS, common ragweed
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Copyright Info: Open access article
Depositing User: Carsten Skjoth
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 11:39
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2020 14:27

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