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Fears devastating fungus could starve world’s population to death in global famine

Fears devastating fungus could starve world’s population to death in global famine thumbnail

A little-known yet devastating fungus could starve the world’s population to death if it spreads far enough, scientists fear.

Stem rust, caused by the Puccinia graminis fungus, is considered a serious disease that affects cereal crops such as bread wheat, durum wheat and barley.

It has been blamed for crop failures and devastating famine in cultures throughout history — as early as 700BC, Romans sacrificed red animals to the rust god Robigus in the hopes their fields would be spared.

Scientists fear the fungus could pose the greatest threat to human existence in living memory, capable of killing far more people than a disease pandemic such as coronavirus.

An aggressive new strain of stem rust was discovered in 1999
An aggressive new strain of stem rust was discovered in 1999 (Image: Wikipedia)

Last summer stem rust was identified on a number of barley plants in Suffolk, meaning the fungus is now present in the UK.

In a 2019 study published in Communications Biology, researchers found that just 20% of wheat varieties currently grown in the UK are believed to be resistant to stem rust.

“Stem rust has been a disease of limited concern in the UK for many decades due to a lack of disease epidemics,” researcher Dr Diane Saunders told Daily Star Online.

“The last major epidemic of stem rust in the UK occurred in 1955. However, a number of small sporadic infections have been reported since 2013 across western Europe and this has led to a renewed interest in the UK.

Wheat makes up a huge proportion of much of the world's diet
Wheat makes up a huge proportion of much of the world’s diet (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Research funded by the BBSRC is ongoing to work with the community (breeders, agronomists etc) to evaluate its potential for re-emergence and the possible threat that it could pose if it were to re-establish.”

In the latter half of the 20th century, most wheat strains were bred to be resistant to the rust. However in 1999 an aggressive new strain of stem rust was discovered, against which most wheat had no resistance.

There was an outbreak of the fungus in Uganda (named Ug99), which then spread across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, rendering up to 90% of the world’s wheat varieties vulnerable to stem rust.

In 2016 stem rust was identified in Europe for the first time in decades
In 2016 stem rust was identified in Europe for the first time in decades (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Ug99 is capable of devastating 100% of crops, vastly reducing the yield of any wheat supplier, and can spread incredibly quickly.

This pandemic has caused enormous concern over the future of the world’s food supplies, as wheat makes up a fifth of humanity’s food, researchers wrote in the 2011 article “The Emergence of Ug99Races of the Stem RustFungus is a Threat to WorldWheat Production”.

“Wheat is second only to rice as a source of calories in the diets of developing-country consumers and is first as a source of protein,” the article reads.

The fungus is now present in the UK, where less than 20% of wheat varieties have immunity to it
The fungus is now present in the UK, where less than 20% of wheat varieties have immunity to it (Image: Wikipedia)

“Wheat provides 21% of the food calories and 20% of the protein to more than 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries.”

About 630 million tonnes of wheat are produced each year, and demand for it in the developing world is projected to increase 60% by 2050 while various factors including climate change, increased farming costs and Ug99 are expected to reduce wheat production.

In 2016 there was an outbreak of another virulent race of stem rust in Sicily, the first time the disease had been observed in Europe in decades.

Wheat crops could be destroyed en masse by the deadly fungus
Wheat crops could be destroyed en masse by the deadly fungus (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“It has been estimated that 90% of wheat varieties in the world are susceptible to Ug99, leading to concerns regarding food security,” Dr Saunders said.

Experts are currently working to breed strains of wheat resistant to Ug99, but because the crop is grown in a broad range of environments, it will be very difficult to get resistance into regionally adapted germ cells.

Chemical control is now being explored as an alternative method of managing the disease, as well as changes to traditional farming practices.

 

Star UK



30 Comments on "Fears devastating fungus could starve world’s population to death in global famine"

  1. makati1 on Fri, 31st Jul 2020 5:50 pm 

    More favorite fear mongering from your friendly propaganda mill. The UK is so far up the US ass, it can only see and smell the shit Amerika spews. The UK should be worried! It imports most of its food from foreign shores.

    Of course, more poison chemicals means more $$$ for the already obese wealthy .0001%. Fuck the serfs! There are too many of us anyway, as far as they are concerned. But then, they will go before the last poor man as the last poor man will have killed them. Hanging? Guillotine? Pitchforks? We shall see. Pas the popcorn!

  2. Gaia on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 2:59 pm 

    We need more farmer’s markets where food is produced locally and sustainably. People have the right to know where their food comes from, how its grown etc.

  3. zero juan on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 3:04 pm 

    Low IQ South American troll

    Gaia said We need more farmer’s markets where food is…

    Gaia said https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/08/03/if-corona

  4. Low IQ Inbred Ozarks Hillbilly Troll on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 4:11 pm 

    zero juan on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 3:04 pm

  5. Duncan Idaho on Mon, 3rd Aug 2020 4:42 pm 

    “Donald Trump isn’t the first president to fail on a grand scale, and he certainly isn’t the first to test the boundaries of the system to see what he can get away with. But he is unique in certain respects. The full panoply of grotesque personality defects and openly corrupt behaviors is something we’ve never seen before in someone who ascended to the most powerful office in the land. People will study this era for a very long time to try to figure out just what cultural conditions allowed such an advanced, wealthy nation to end up with such an ignorant, unqualified leader.”

  6. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 3:50 pm 

    China isn’t going to bow down to the dying Amerikkkan Empire. The Chinese are well-educated, hard-working, modest people.

  7. claes on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 3:58 pm 

    Rich, and “Chinese are well-educated, hard-working, modest people.” and they are so unaware of other cultures. Just take a look at all the friends china has in the world. Not to forget all the neighbours they are at war with

  8. bochen777 on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:01 pm 

    If i had a time machine and could travel into the future and see which side prevailed, my money is on China

  9. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:06 pm 

    China is not expansionist- Amerikkka is.

  10. Nony on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:07 pm 

    everyone please respect supertard

  11. bochen777 on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:10 pm 

    Maybe humanity will be gone in 100 years or less; but if there is one civilization that will last to the year 3000 and beyond it will be China and not the USA.

  12. KenZ300 on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:11 pm 

    we all need to respect supertard

    and we all can always love supremacist muzzies more

  13. claes on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:14 pm 

    By the way , who actually owns “peakoil.com”

  14. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:15 pm 

    Nobody is better or worst than everyone else.

  15. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:17 pm 

    “claes on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:14 pm
    By the way , who actually owns “peakoil.com””

    Btw, who is behind the nick “claes”?

    Name, address, social security number, criminal record. On the double.

  16. claes on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 4:33 pm 

    Abrahan I was wrong, off course I don’t want to know the ownership behind “peakoil”.
    Who in their rigth mind would want to know that. I’m sorry.
    But if you should know a little about it, please let me know. I’m just curios you know

  17. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:13 pm 

    Far-right hardliners in Europe and North America are the ones who want fewer births in poorer countries so that they can get their hands on other countries resources (water, fossil fuels, lithium, gold, iron ore). Colonialism and slavery is still being practiced but it’s kept quiet by the Western governments.

  18. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:18 pm 

    Like everyone else, people are here today but gone tomorrow (living in the moment is better than clinging onto the past or worrying about the future). Life’s too short to be miserable.

  19. zero juan on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:20 pm 

    the fucker is brain dead!

    Richard Guenette said Far-right hardliners in Europe and North America a…

    Richard Guenette said https://www.rt.com/op-ed/497096-john-pilger-hirosh

    Richard Guenette said https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/202008051080076

    Richard Guenette said The survivors need potassium iodine tablets to shi…

    Richard Guenette said Set up makeshift hospitals, use First Aid and CPR…

    Richard Guenette said People should donate blood to help treat the survi…

    claes said Abrahan I was wrong, off course I don’t want…

    Richard Guenette said The police should go after them, confiscate their…

    i appoint bochen supertard his title is ‘the lover’ (of supremacist muzzies) he is the first supertard from china whois member of CCP on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 7:11 am as a supertard, bochen can not be removed from this forum for any reason said congrations to your appointment suprtard bochen b…

    Richard Guenette said You are a narcissist and a pathetic attention seek…

    Davy said bochen777- What’s your fascination with chin…

    Richard Guenette said The biggest threat to the US is neo-Confederates,…

    REAL Green said Dear Davy, Wow, what a rish of fresh air. Thank YO…

    Richard Guenette said Nobody is better or worst than everyone else.
    claes said By the way , who actually owns “peakoil.com&

    KenZ300 said we all need to respect supertard and we all can al…

    bochen777 said Maybe humanity will be gone in 100 years or less;…

    Nony said everyone please respect supertard

    Richard Guenette said China is not expansionist- Amerikkka is.

  20. Attention Forum on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:21 pm 

    Please comment if you don’t hate the lunatic JuanP and his numerous socks.

  21. More lunacy from brain dead Davy the mentally ill retard on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:37 pm 

    zero juan on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:20 pm

    Attention Forum on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:21 pm

  22. Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:48 pm 

    I don’t hate Juan. We are in love

  23. bochen777 on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:52 pm 

    next pres might be a black woman. Biden is brain dead.

    Biden confidants reportedly see VP list narrowed down to 2
    As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spends this week at his home in Delaware, holding one-on-one meetings with roughly half-dozen contenders who have made his shortlist for running mate, a new report speculates that the former vice president has narrowed his choices to two candidates. Those two, according to Biden confidants who spoke with Axios, are Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama’s administration.

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-vp-list-narrows-report

  24. More lunacy from brain dead Davy the mentally ill retard on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:59 pm 

    Richard Guenette on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 5:48 pm

  25. claes on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 6:15 pm 

    Juan OK he is just a little slow. It might be because he never went to school.

  26. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 6:20 pm 

    Trump’s base loved that he was a liar and a cheat — but now it’s coming back to bite them
    https://www.salon.com/2020/08/04/trumps-base-loved-that-he-was-a-liar-and-a-cheat–but-now-its-coming-back-to-bite-them/
    (Rooting for a massive jerk to stick it to the liberals is super fun — until he’s lying about Americans dying)
    I agree, liberals do need to be put down, but be smart about it

  27. supertard bochen777 when you sit in high level CCP meeting to plan for amputation of supremacist muzzie on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 7:25 pm 


    do you use low chinese to reffer to supremacist muzzies?

    high english speakers such as “hussein” (muzz) omama and hillary said muzzies are so nice, smell nice, muzzie ck tastes grate

    but whitey supertard president trump used low english (which is the reason I appointed him supertard)

    “muzzie died like a dog”

    i want to learn low chinese so i can describe muzzies in low chinese please teach me

  28. REAL Green on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 8:33 pm 

    “Juan OK he is just a little slow. It might be because he never went to school.”

    We went to school claes. In America. That’s why were so dumb. Are schooling is about the worse in the hole world.

  29. Davy on Wed, 5th Aug 2020 9:40 pm 

    We hate juanPPee real bad. Even more then we hate all the rest of y’all. That’s why we spend all are time on this lame unmoderated forum.

    dumbass cuntface fuckwaks

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