May 20, 2011

SUMMER RAINS BRING CEREAL DISEASE FEARS:

Also: New Resistant Strains of Disease Could Wipe Out Global Wheat Fields. “At a meeting of the International Wheat Stripe Rust Symposium last week in Aleppo Syria, scientists said unless serious and urgent measures were taken to combat the rust, it would adversely reduce wheat production in the world.”

On the other hand, there’s this: Kenyan Rust Disease-Resistant Wheat to Boost Production, Institute Says. While people worry about wars and scandals, this kind of thing makes a bigger difference in terms of lives saved.

UPDATE: A gloomy email from farmer-reader Bart Hall:

Glenn, as a now-grey-haired agronomist, I can tell you, this is serious $#!+. As with maize (corn) in 1970, gene pools have become far too narrow and field production far too dependent upon non-resistant pathogens. As the world enters a prolonged, as in 25 years (if we’re fortunate) period of cooling — google Pacific Decadal Oscillation — the interaction of effective pathogens is likely to be devastating.

If we are re-entering a Maunder Minimum type event — and with my first two degrees in geology I believe we are — the scenario worsens considerably. Look at any of the Brueghel paintings (elder or younger), or go read the sonnet Vivaldi wrote, in Venice on the Adriatic, to accompany his ‘Winter’ in the ‘Four Seasons.’

Islam became militant in the 14th century — cooling climate and sharply reduced food resources — far more than in the Seventh. Things are getting rather messy.

Well, we’ll see. I don’t think there’s enough data to predict what will happen, but there’s enough to be concerned, and to make preparations. If governments, etc., are doing enough, though, I’m not seeing it. Meanwhile, here’s more on wheat rust and food politics.

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