The Death Of Grass
The world's leading crop scientists issued a stark warning that a deadly airborne fungus could devastate wheat harvests in poor countries and lead to famines and civil unrest over significant regions of central Asia and Africa.If there ever was a problem crying out for a biotech fix, this is it. Conventional cross-breeding to produce resistant varieties takes time, and is a Red Queen's race. The best long-term fix would be to cut our reliance on a handful of monoculture crops with very little genetic variance and a consequent high susceptibility to disease, but in the short term we'll have to bite the biotech bullet. Especially if (when) ug99 reaches North America. Or else get used to eating potatoes and seaweed (or each other).
Ug99 — so called because it was first seen in Uganda in 1999 — is a new variety of an old crop disease called "stem rust", which has already spread on the wind from Africa to Iran. It is particularly alarming because it can infect crops in just a few hours and vast clouds of invisible spores can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles.
Shaping up to be a hell of a century, isn't it?