Prof. Stuart McCook, Department of History, spoke to The New York Times about a new study that suggests an invasive snail might help with the coffee rust problem that is devastating coffee plantations across South and Central America.
The study, which McCook was not involved in, found that the Asian trampsnail will happily consume coffee rust, cleaning leaves completely of the fungus.
McCook noted in his comments taht the study authors were not suggesting introducing the invasive species into plantations.
“The broader purpose of their work is: we need to think of ways to construct the agro-ecosystem to combat disease,” he said.
McCook studies the environmental history of tropical crops and commodities, particularly global tropical crop disease outbreaks in the 19th and 20th centuries.
He is the author of Coffee is Not Forever: A Global History of the Coffee Rust, which traces the long history of the coffee rust fungus.