Stratfor picks up on something I mentioned in Important news about the global food crisis! (1 April 2008): “A Wheat Fungus and the Potential Food Crisis”, Stratfor (17 April 2008) — Subscribers only. Excerpt:
A fungus that affects wheat growth has spread beyond East Africa into southern parts of the Middle East. Given the coming monsoon season, it could spread to South Asia — potentially causing a major disruption of wheat production. At a time when supplies are already down, the spread of this fungus could create a global crisis.
The progress of the UG99 wheat fungus deserves attention. Here is the report I cited in the 1 April post, the best I have found on the subject.
“Killer wheat fungus a threat to global food security?“, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (27 March 2008) — Excerpt:
The Ug99 strain of the killer wheat fungus (stem rust), which recently infected wheat farms in western Iran, is a serious threat to global food security, agricultural scientists have warned. They have said the fungus may affect additional wheat-producing countries.
Mahmoud Solh, director-general of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), was quoted in a 20 March ICARDA press release as saying that he and his fellow scientists were convinced that Ug99 would quickly spread beyond Iran and that, with the long distance travel of rust spores, Ug99 would soon affect farms in the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia.
Richard Brettell, director of the Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Programme at ICARDA, told IRIN on 26 March that halting the spread of the stem rust spores is difficult since they are dispersed by the wind. “The fungus can to some extent be controlled by the application of fungicides [as a spray]; however, these need to be applied at an early stage of infection before the disease takes hold,” he said.
Brettell said the most effective way of controlling the disease is to grow resistant varieties. But he warned: “The problem is that almost all the wheat varieties grown in West and South Asia are known to be susceptible to Ug99. It will take time and coordination to replace them with resistant varieties.”
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For more information about this subject
- Important news about the global food crisis! (1 April 2008)
- A view from Indonesia of the food crisis (3 April 2008)
- What you probably do not know about China’s food crisis (21 April 2008)
- Higher food prices, riots, shortages – what is going on? (29 April 2008)
- A modest proposal for solving the global food crisis (30 April 2008)
- Weekend reading about the Food Crisis (17 May 2008)
This archive shows all posts about the food crisis, plus reports from from major international agencies.