×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Disease Outbreak Threatens the Future of Good Coffee

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the spice-must-flow dept.

Earth 259

Wired reports on a disease infecting coffee plants across Central America that could lead to shortages around the world. "Regional production fell by 15 percent last year, putting nearly 400,000 people out of work, and that’s just a taste of what’s to come. The next harvest season begins in October, and according to the International Coffee Organization, crop losses could hit 50 percent." The disease is called coffee rust, and it has been damaging crops to some degree since the 1800s. It's not known yet exactly why coffee rust has become such a problem now, but one of the leading suspects is climate change. "Since the mid-20th century, though, weather patterns in Central America and northern South America have shifted. Average temperatures are warmer across the region, with extremes of both heat and cold becoming more pronounced; so are extreme rainfall events." The fungus that causes coffee rust thrives on warm, humid air, and higher temperatures have allowed it to climb to higher altitudes than ever before. But another likely cause is the way in which coffee is planted and harvested these days: the plants evolved as shade-dwellers, but are now often placed in direct sunlight. They're also clustered closer together, which facilitates the spread of disease. "The integrity of this once-complicated ecosystem has been slowly breaking down, which is what happens when you try to grow coffee like corn."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

259 comments

No.... (2)

flandre (1278778) | about 10 months ago | (#43980995)

This can't be happening!

Re:No.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981223)

American business will grind to a halt!
Withdrawal! Withdrawal! Withdrawal!

Obama did it! :)

Banana Alobama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43982013)

http://gawker.com/5823906/the-banana-apocalypse-is-coming

Not only the coffee got hit, Banana got hit too !!

The culprit is known as "Fusarium Wilt"

http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/management/bananapanama/

Re:No.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981719)

Yet another problem with java.

I don't drink coffee (3, Interesting)

sjwt (161428) | about 10 months ago | (#43981009)

"The integrity of this once-complicated ecosystem has been slowly breaking down, which is what happens when you try to grow coffee like corn."

So long as we don't try and grow corn like corn, I'm happy, I love my popcorn!

Perhaps the issue is not climate change, but rather some evolution of the coffee rust..

Re:I don't drink coffee (4, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | about 10 months ago | (#43981021)

Monsanto Coffee. A new Starbucks option. Kills the rust. Only problem: turns coffee blue.

Re:I don't drink coffee (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about 10 months ago | (#43981351)

Monsanto Coffee. A new Starbucks option. Kills the rust. Only problem: turns the drinker cyanotic.

FTFY

Re:I don't drink coffee (2, Insightful)

boundary (1226600) | about 10 months ago | (#43981489)

What, pray tell, does Starbucks have to do with good coffee?

Re:I don't drink coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981531)

They have some you can buy there, jackass.

Re:I don't drink coffee (5, Funny)

boundary (1226600) | about 10 months ago | (#43981569)

You clearly can't tell good coffee from bad coffee. My pet civet could teach you a few things.

Re:I don't drink coffee (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981577)

You clearly are a fucking loser.

Re:I don't drink coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43982051)

You clearly can't tell good coffee from bad coffee. My pet civet could teach you a few things.

Nor can you apparently, since you imply that you drink civet shit.

Re:I don't drink coffee (1)

boundary (1226600) | about 10 months ago | (#43982215)

Don't be silly. The beans are indeed pooped out by the civet but they can't be digested, hence they're not shit, per se. They're separated from the shit. And hopefully washed too...

Re:I don't drink coffee (1)

RulerOf (975607) | about 10 months ago | (#43982097)

I drink Eight O'Clock because it tastes great and holy f*** good coffee is an expensive habit.

Re:I don't drink coffee (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#43982195)

They have some [good coffee] you can buy there, jackass.

Really? Name it. You'll be hard-pressed to find a single bean in a Starbucks that hasn't been intentionally over-roasted as part of their standard business practice. As should be obvious, the result of over-roasting is that your beans will give you a burnt ash flavor rather than a rich, nuanced coffee flavor, which is why so many people who have only ever been exposed to Starbucks (or worse) think that coffee by itself tastes bad, when it really doesn't. Several of us at my company nearly staged an uprising when an HR person who didn't know any better brought back a bag of "Starbucks Dark French Roast" for our several thousand dollar coffee machine to use, thinking she was doing us a favor.

(quick aside: to quote Wikipedia's definition for a French Roast - "Roast character is dominant at this level. Little, if any, of the inherent flavors of the coffee remain." I.e. It's been burnt to the point where you can't taste the coffee itself, and that's even before you take into account that a Starbucks "blonde" is actually a medium, their "medium" is a dark, and their "dark" is simply burnt beyond hope.)

As for why they over-roast, there are two main reasons. One is that more heavily roasted beans maintain a flavor for longer, giving them a longer shelf life. The other is that over-roasting produces a stronger (though worse) flavor that can stand out when you load your drink up with cream, caramel, sugar, whipped cream, ice, and whatever else. If they had instead used properly roasted beans, they'd have needed to increase the concentration of actual coffee in the drink (i.e. increase their costs), since the flavor of decent coffee is more subdued and would have a harder time standing out above that mess of excess. Instead, they cheated by increasing the strength of the flavor via over-roasting so that they could use as little coffee as possible, while compromising on the flavor of the most important ingredient itself.

And even if you go for their "blonde" roasts, they're still just average compared to decent ones you can pick up elsewhere. If you want some decent coffee without a lot of fuss, get it from a decent roaster as soon as possible after roasting (e.g. Tonx), and brew it properly (e.g. use a burr grinder and an Aeropress, for instance).

Re:I don't drink coffee (1)

GNious (953874) | about 10 months ago | (#43981575)

I'm mostly confused that there apparently is such a thing as "good coffee"...

Re:I don't drink coffee (1)

RulerOf (975607) | about 10 months ago | (#43982105)

I'm mostly confused that there apparently is such a thing as "good coffee"...

It's like "good beer." Some people just don't like it in general; it takes a really, really good one to be able to enjoy it, and that can depend on something as fickle as "I have a strange taste for $_specific_food."

Re:I don't drink coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981627)

Well it is at least several times as good as Dunkin Donuts... sigh, life in New England.

Fortunately, I can make coffee at home. And my GF has introduced me to cuban coffee, made in that little espresso pot that sits on the stove - pure, strong espresso goodness. Or I can make in my regular espresso machine, with steam, latte, etc., or just straight, pure espresso coffee + sugar. (Cuban comes in a vacuum pack. Other vacuum packs are different, YMMV.)

Re:I don't drink coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981671)

coffee turns blue
and so do you.

Happy daisy-pushing day after drinking Monsato©offee.

As a cuppa Joe rises towards $50, time to sell those Starbucks shares?

Re:I don't drink coffee (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 10 months ago | (#43981035)

It may be both: evolution of the coffee rust driven by climate change.

Re:I don't drink coffee (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#43981539)

It may be both: evolution of the coffee rust driven by climate change.

Or it could be a lack of genetic diversity in the coffee trees. The fungus can spread through vast plantations of genetically similar arabica trees. The reason the rust has difficulty infecting wild trees may be because of their diversity, as well as their dispersion.

Disclaimer: I am a tea drinker.

Re:I don't drink coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981949)

I'm very fond of green tea. But China has been rapidly developing their nation with western industrialization in the last 10 years alone. If it hasn't already started, I wouldn't be surprised if China started dabbling in genetic engineering of green tea to produce the "perfect" leaf. The Chinese are quite serious about their teas as the West is about their wines. Give it another 10 or 15 years and you'll start to see bouts of massive tea blights.

Re:I don't drink coffee (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981107)

Blasphemer! Infidel! The holy cult of the burning globe DEMANDS YOUR DEATH!!! A JIHAD upon your house!

Re:I don't drink coffee (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981185)

Actually, as someone whose family has owned coffee farms for over 100 years let me clue you in.

Traditional coffee plants can last 20 years, they grow tall, shade the ground, and drop the leaves to fertilize the soil, have root systems that keep the soil in place, since coffee is grown in steppes.

However, they are hybribs created in Brazil, that grow faster, less root systems, but need constant fertilization, and the root systems are shallow, causing run off of the soil, lower quality bean, But they produce like hell. But the constant fertilization they need ruins the land.

They are also highly susceptible to root rust.

It is not so much the climate change, but the mass production from genetically manipulated plants.

Re:I don't drink coffee (3, Interesting)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 10 months ago | (#43981329)

The thing with rust is that it goes in waves - people were freaking out over the rust sweeping through the evergreen population in Ontario and for a while it was bad, but then nature sorted it out and it's still present but not everywhere/killing all the trees like it was.
 

Don't panic (0)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#43981017)

Coffee futures are down, supplies are up. This is just another warmist scare story.

Re:Don't panic (1)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | about 10 months ago | (#43981313)

Coffee futures are down, supplies are up.

This is true [denverpost.com]

This is just another warmist scare story.

The last time CO2 levels were at 400ppm was a very long time ago, way before neanderthals, at the time of homo erectus. Maybe it's not unreasonable to worry.

Re:Don't panic (5, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about 10 months ago | (#43981369)

This is just another warmist scare story.

The last time CO2 levels were at 400ppm was a very long time ago, way before neanderthals, at the time of homo erectus. Maybe it's not unreasonable to worry.

Why worry? First - the neanderthals are extinct, second - they didn't drink coffee.

(ducks)

Re:Don't panic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981641)

A few years before that (dinosaurs and ferns ruled), CO2 was 3000 ppm, temps were higher, oxygen was higher, mammals appeared, life was good.

Re:Don't panic (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 10 months ago | (#43982089)

Uninformed opinion. Mammals are at least as old as dinosaurs and some findings indicate that they're even older! Thank $DEITY for the yucatan meteorite!

Re:Don't panic (2)

magarity (164372) | about 10 months ago | (#43981715)

Why worry? First - the neanderthals are extinct, second - they didn't drink coffee.

Maybe they went extinct because their coffee plantations all rusted away?

Re:Don't panic (3, Interesting)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 10 months ago | (#43981373)

You mean during the last inter-ice age period? Like the one we're currently moving into?

Re:Don't panic (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981517)

No you moron. Much further back.

Are people retarded? They don't know a difference between 10,000 years and 2,000,000 years?? That's well over 20 ice ages ago. Get a clue.

The only thing we are moving into the 6th Great Extinction caused by ourselves. Pat yourselves on the back. Your ignorance deserves it.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/03/28/the-sixth-great-extinction-a-silent-extermination/ [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:Don't panic (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#43981473)

The last time CO2 levels were at 400ppm was a very long time ago, way before neanderthals, at the time of homo erectus. Maybe it's not unreasonable to worry.

Fortunately coffee is a C3 plant, and should respond well to a CO2-enriched atmosphere.

Buy stock in Red Bull. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981027)

Sales of energy drinks will go through the roof.

well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981043)

The 'best coffee' in the world comes out of a cats ass i'm told...

So you'll pardon me if i really don't care what happens to coffee or coffee drinkers...

You're all some sick sick little moo cows anyway. Get away from me.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981275)

Coca-Cola products
Pepsi Cola products
All the other cola products
some Headache remedies
some ADD remedies (OTC)
Energy drinks
Ice Cream!
Irish Coffee!
and more...have caffeine from coffee!

Bring back the Robusta beans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981049)

They don't call them robusta for nothing.

Re:Bring back the Robusta beans (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 10 months ago | (#43981383)

They don't call them robusta for nothing.

Bitter like hell. I prefer uncured olives over robusta.

Seriously? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981057)

Why does every problem we face today come back to global warming? Oh wait, that is not the correct buzz word, because the planet is actually cooling, not getting warmer... I'm sorry, I meant "climate change".

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981239)

Why does ever bible thumper consider it a bad thing to change ones mind about something in light of new data? Regardless of what the earth is or is not doing, that is the message that your post is conveying. That once you make a claim, you'd better stick to that claim, no matter how much evidence later comes up against that claim.

I wish I understood why you people consider pig-headedness to be a virtue.

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#43981557)

Why does ever bible thumper consider it a bad thing to change ones mind about something in light of new data?

Why does everyone else do that too? I guess because we've evolved not to readily change our minds. Maybe it was bad for us if we changed our minds too much about saber-tooth tigers or poisonous plants. "I think poison ivy changed due to a dream vision I had last night. Let's roll in it!"

I find it remarkable how anti-scientific some of the attitudes among the supposedly pro-science side are. Here, you are complaining about "bible thumpers" merely because they exhibit a universal human behavior.

As to your "data", I think it's painfully clear that the researcher (who was quoted on the climate change allegation) is tying coffee rust to climate change in order to sell their story and attract funding rather than tell a more plausible story. Where is the discussion of evolution of coffee rust, bad farming practices, and the presence of more susceptible coffee plants (they need not be at the same farm as the "fine coffee" plants)?

Also psychology (3)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#43981791)

Part of this is also psychology. We're wired to dislike being wrong, especially in public - it indicates to others that we aren't fit for reproduction. Most people would rather dig their heels in than admit they're wrong (viz: any government official).

You first have to pop the person out of heuristic mode [wikipedia.org] and into systemic mode. The easiest way to do this is to phrase the information as a question. Best is constructing the question in a "leading" way to encourage them to choose your side of an issue..

So for example:

"Would you support the ban on Child Pornography if it resulted in more children being molested?"

(CP being the most emotional hot-button issue I can think of.)

(For more info, "The Psychology of Selling" [amazon.com] has a lot of down-to-Earth information on convincing people.)

End of the world! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981063)

Nooooooooooo!

Coffee is threatened? (5, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about 10 months ago | (#43981075)

Finally, something to unify all Americans against climate change. Democrat or republican, poor or rich... It doesn't matter. We'll all stand together to stop this evil!

Re:Coffee is threatened? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981119)

Good luck getting the deniers to accept that it is actually climate change that's affecting the coffee supply.

Re:Coffee is threatened? (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#43981565)

Good luck getting the deniers to accept that it is actually climate change that's affecting the coffee supply.

Rather than evolution of coffee rust, bad farming practices, and development and planting of coffee plants more susceptible to coffee rust? I imagine it won't be the least bit difficult.

Re:Coffee is threatened? (3, Funny)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 10 months ago | (#43981287)

I refuse to believe that change is bad. Change is the one thing in life that we can depend on. Our constant companion. I embrace change of any kind. Besides I prefer Mormon Tea to coffee. As long as Ma Huang is not affected I will continue to bask in the warmth of the ever changing climate.

Re:Coffee is threatened? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 10 months ago | (#43981711)

I once thought as you. Then I plotted all the changes of the world that I could. After marveling at the cycles in the energies of life, I forced myself to take a step back and plot the general reduction in the diversity of life over time. I will not do this for you, because your sanity is valuable to me. In short, there is a dead-line by which sentient AI must be born in order to carry the human spirit of exploration and science onward.

First they came for the Coffee Tree, but I did nothing, because I drank Tea....

Re:Coffee is threatened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43982023)

Mormon Tea, what is that? Sounds like a drink like Red Bull and Vodka or 4Loko.

Time to invest in Starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981123)

With all of the good coffee gone, they are going to make a mint.

Panic (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 10 months ago | (#43981129)

Oh that's it, the spooks hacked the coffee now too, this appears to be getting personal... They say don't screw with 'merika's oil, but u screw with our coffee, that's just askin fer it... "Fuel the nukes"...

There will be consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981139)

Not trying to be an alarmist, but this means substantially fewer LOC written in Perl and C.

coffee (-1, Troll)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 10 months ago | (#43981145)

Americans don't know what good coffee is... Not trying to be trollish but what you tend to drink is nothing like a good coffee in Australia and no doubt in lots of other parts of the world.

Re:coffee (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981247)

Americans don't know what good coffee is...

Not trying to be trollish but what you tend to drink is nothing like a good coffee in Australia and no doubt in lots of other parts of the world.

"Not trying to be trollish but"

You failed.

didn't fail (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 10 months ago | (#43981681)

the statement is sadly true.
being a proud member of the minority. I demand good coffee!

I'd rather go without than get coffee at mcdonalds

New pop hit: Yes! We have no coffee today! (0)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 10 months ago | (#43981157)

There's a fruit store on our street
It's run by a Greek
And he keeps good things to eat But you should hear him speak!
When you ask him anything, he never answers "no"
He just "yes"es you to death, and as he takes your dough He tells you
"Yes, we have no coffee
We have-a no coffee today
We've string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato But yes, we have no coffee
We have no coffee today

Business got so good for him that he wrote home today,
"Send me Pete and Nick and Jim; I need help right away"
When he got them in the store, there was fun, you bet
Someone asked for "sparrow grass" and then the whole quartet
All answered "Yes, we have no coffee
We have-a no coffee today
Just try those coconuts
Those wall-nuts and doughnuts
There ain't many nuts like they
We'll sell you two kinds of red herring,
Dark brown, and ball-bearing
But yes, we have no coffee
We have no coffee today"

He, he, he, he, ha, ha, ha whatta you laugh at?
You gotta soup or pie?
Yes, I don't think we got soup or pie
You gotta coconut pie?
Yes, I don't think we got coconut pie
Well I'll have one cup a coffee
We gotta no coffee
Then watta you got?
I got a coffee!
Oh you've got a coffee!

Yes, we gotta no coffee, No coffee, No coffee, I tell you we gotta no coffee today
I sella you no coffee
Hey, Mary Anna, you gotta... gotta no coffee?
Why this man, he's no believe-a what I say no he no believe me
Now whatta you wanta mister? You wanna buy twelve for a quarter?
Well, just a one of a look, I'm gonna call for my daughter
Hey, Mary Anna You gotta piana
Yes, a coffee, no
Yes, we gotta no coffee today!

The new English "clark" (a.k.a. "clerk"):
Yes, we are very sorry to inform you
That we are entirely out of the fruit in question
The afore-mentioned vegetable Bearing the cognomen "coffee"
We might induce you to accept a substitute less desirable,
But that is not the policy at this internationally famous green grocery
I should say not. No no no no no no no
But may we suggest that you sample our five o'clock tea
Which we feel certain will tempt your pallet?
However we regret that after a diligent search
Of the premises By our entire staff
We can positively affirm without fear of contradiction
That our raspberries are delicious; really delicious
Very delicious But we have no coffee today.


Apologies to these guys [lyricsmode.com]

Re:New pop hit: Yes! We have no coffee today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981573)

Get bent asswipe. You could just type in the title of the song.

Seriously... why do fucking idiots think they are so clever when they fill an entire page with their copy/paste of song lyrics?

It Happened to Chocolate 100 Years Ago (5, Informative)

broward (416376) | about 10 months ago | (#43981241)

http://worldfamousdesignjunkies.com/food/rare-near-extinct-fine-chocolate-rediscovered-in-peru/ [worldfamou...unkies.com]

"Pure Nacional, with its complex fruit and floral flavors, once dominated the fine chocolate market worldwide. In 1916, diseases struck the Pure Nacional population in Ecuador and within three years 95% of the trees were destroyed. The prized chocolate was thought to be lost, until now."

It happened to bananas, too (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981493)

The banana that many of us (at least those of us over a certain age) grew up snacking on now is extinct. As a result of a banana monoculture and an ever-mutating fungus, the Gros Michael variety of banana is no more.

Without the public noticing, around 1960 the Gros Michael disappeared and Chiquita (aka United Brands) replaced it with the much less tasty Cavendish variety. Well, actually banana eaters did notice that bananas had suddenly gotten less snackable but nobody gave a reason or acknowledged that anything was wrong. Eventually people came to accept the Cavendish while still thinking that bananas weren't as good as they used to be.

And now the Cavendish banana is going the same way as the Gros Michael thanks to the same monoculture farming technique. And there may not be a replacement.

Re:It happened to bananas, too (1)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#43981597)

And now the Cavendish banana is going the same way as the Gros Michael thanks to the same monoculture farming technique. And there may not be a replacement.

Except for the next monoculture varieties that they come up with. It's just not that hard. They could also switch back to the Gros Michael. It's still around.

Re:It happened to bananas, too (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about 10 months ago | (#43981619)

I wouldn't care if the Cavendish goes extinct (along with the farms that grow it), as you said it's near tasteless - a good potato is even tastier. Perhaps it's only good as an edible stage prop - more photogenic.

Plenty of other tastier banana breeds available and strangely many seem cheaper than the Cavendish in my country. So all that monoculture etc doesn't actually make it cheaper to me - maybe it makes it more profitable to the ones selling it?

Example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Finger_banana [wikipedia.org]
For more see: http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/Banana-plantain-overview.pdf [agroforestry.net]

Re:It happened to bananas, too (5, Informative)

garyebickford (222422) | about 10 months ago | (#43981677)

A couple of notes - it's "Gros Michel", and you're right, by all accounts it was a much tastier banana - more fruity. Cavendish is so unfruity it might as well be a grain. All Cavendish plants worldwide are clones - identical plants. Cavendish, like Navel Oranges, produce no seeds. The impact of this change was huge - Cavendish bananas are extremely sensitive to bruising so an entire new bush-to-ship-to-distributor-to-store system had to be developed, that protected the bananas from any stress. The bananas had to be shipped in clusters. The ships were even different.

But there are 700 other species of banana. There are at least two major research thrusts - genetic engineering (trying to engineer a resistant version), and selective breeding & hybridization (trying to breed a new banana by cross breeding existing plants with desirable characteristics). IMHO it would be at least as effective to just provide a wider range of bananas in the store at a reasonable price - so far all the alternatives have been 2X or 3X the price of Cavendish.

A company I'm looking at is also working on an epigenetic solution - exposing the undifferentiated stem cells to stresses that will hopefully encourage the banana plants to express their genes differently, including genes that provide resistance.

Climate change? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981255)

Mono cultures seem to help disease spread faster. When one particular type of plant becomes very popular, well a large portion of the available farm land will be stuffed to capacity with that plant. Just like the flu will most likely spread faster in humans when they cluster together.

Re:Climate change? (1)

broward (416376) | about 10 months ago | (#43981309)

I can't find a reference but at a "coming out" party for Pure Nacional chocolate, one of the presenters implied that it died out so quickly because of monoculture.

gros michel and panama disease redux (3, Informative)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 10 months ago | (#43981389)

Yup. Monoculture was the first thing I thought of. That's why we can only get bland Cavendish bananas in the US now, which rot before they will sweeten, instead of sweet, delicious Gros Michels. Panama disease killed off the vast majority of Gros Michel bananas and the Cavendish was selected solely for its resistance to that disease. Not for its taste.

Strawberries in Egypt (3, Interesting)

kbahey (102895) | about 10 months ago | (#43981737)

Same for Strawberries in Egypt in the last quarter of the 20th century. The cultivar that was used initially was so sweet and fragrant, but did not keep well in the heat of Egypt and could not withstand transportation with heavy loss. Enter the current cultivar: much bigger fruits that look better, significantly harder, and almost tasteless, like the ones you find in the USA/Canada supermarkets. The older cultivar vanished in a year or two.

It was not disease, but yield that did it.

Climate or planting methods? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981257)

So from the fine article it appears that the spread of coffee rust could have something to do with the changes in cultivation practices. Or we could get climate alarmists all excited by blaming climate change. Reading carefully, it's clear that cultivation practices have a lot to do with the rust outbreak. But we can get climate alarmists all excited by blaming climate change. Woo!

Coffee? (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 10 months ago | (#43981277)

No cause for alarm.
On the other hand, I might actually care if beer is in danger.

Re:Coffee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981513)

Wake me up when the oceans dry up.
Also, once all the ice on the poles has melted, sea water might actually be drinkable.

Is there nothing climate change can't do? (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#43981307)

It's not known yet exactly why coffee rust has become such a problem now, but one of the leading suspects is climate change.

Here's another eye-rolling moment from the chicken littles who can't be bothered to decide what climate change is. From the article,

âoeThereâ(TM)s increasing evidence that climate change is part of the problem. You find coffee rust striking much farther up the valleys than it used to. Thereâ(TM)s no other plausible explanation,â Baker said. âoeBut what happened last year, and why it was so aggressive and widespread, weâ(TM)re still a bit [perplexed]. And if we donâ(TM)t really know what caused it, itâ(TM)s going to be hard to predict.â

Another plausible explanation, especially given the more virulent nature of this coffee rust problem, is that it has evolved or a new strain has moved in. That wasn't hard. Note that the researcher is confident that "climate change" is involved, but far less confident that biology is involved.

This is a researcher in the field making these claims not some ignorant Wired writer. I see this as further evidence that climatology has been taken over by political forces. A scientist makes an overly confident claim about "climate change" and it gets readily and uncritically reported by a high profile news source. And the take away that the reader gets is that their coffee is threatened by climate change. That's a classic propaganda move.

Re:Is there nothing climate change can't do? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 months ago | (#43981423)

Note that the researcher is confident that "climate change" is involved, but far less confident that biology is involved.

Funny enough, climate and biology do not operate independently.

Re:Is there nothing climate change can't do? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#43981467)

Funny enough, climate and biology do not operate independently.

I grant that. But note again, how confident the researcher is in one and not the other.

There is no problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981391)

We've already got huge stockpiles of caffeine in the USA, right? So, the simple answer to this problem is to create an artificially coffee flavored drink that can be warmed up. All you'd have to do is add a certain amount of caffeine to it and VIOLA! Instant coffee!

Or we could just switch to drinking soda. That has caffeine in it, am I right? You also have a significantly lower risk of accidentally burning your vagina with a Pepsi.

Or I suppose we could just drink water, which is healthier than both coffee and soda, and doesn't have an extremely addictive chemical (caffeine) in it. But if you'd rather drink your ObamaCoffee or your ObamaPepsi, that's fine with me. On an unrelated note, why is bottled water more expensive than a similar quantity of soda or, in some cases, even beer?

Didn't beer and/or hard (apple) cider used to be preferable to water a couple decades ago because most American water was filthier than the stuff you could get in Mexico?

maybe it's a sign (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 10 months ago | (#43981401)

I never drink coffee because it tastes like disgusting burnt plants or something. Maybe since it causes headaches, high blood pressure, dehydration, kidney stones, teeth stains, etc maybe this is a sign that you all should stop drinking it. If not for your health, just walk into a Starbucks and see what kind of self-important, hippie, too-cool-for-you douchebags are there drinking $5 coffee imported specifically and purposely from somewhere you've never heard of and then reconsider your morning drink. I down some energy drink with TONS of vitamin B6 and B12 and no creatine or anything real harmful and 42 mg of caffine (1 can of most sodas contains 52 mg and one cup of coffee is usualy 70+). Then I ride the metabolism bonfire, anti-oxident happy train all the way to 5:00 lol.

Re:maybe it's a sign (0)

fuzznutz (789413) | about 10 months ago | (#43981503)

I never drink coffee because it tastes like disgusting burnt plants or something. Maybe since it causes headaches, high blood pressure, dehydration, kidney stones, teeth stains, etc

You forgot the horrible breath. You cannot sit far enough away from a coffee drinker at a lunch table to avoid that horrible dragon breath that accompanies them everywhere after a morning of drinking the stuff. Worse, if they are also smokers. You always hope they order something with lots of garlic to mask the smell and that it arrives quickly. I always wondered if their spouses retched when they went home and kissed them hello.

Re:maybe it's a sign (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | about 10 months ago | (#43981647)

For the more enlightened of us self-important, hippie, too-cool-for-you douchebags, coffee breath is an *aphrodisiac*. Although I would concur that the crap at McBuck's doesn't rate.

Re:maybe it's a sign (3, Funny)

broward (416376) | about 10 months ago | (#43981537)

I like being a "self-important, hippie, too-cool-for-you douchebag".

Come join us,
it's only $5.

The real cause of the coming zombie apocalypse (4, Funny)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 10 months ago | (#43981429)

Millions of people roaming the earth in a state that is neither alive nor dead. All in search of caffeine; not brains.

Cheers,
Dave

Climate Change - Location Change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981579)

If indeed climate change is a contributing factor, it seems that other climates may have been changed to be more favorable too. Is it possible that this will simply relocate the coffee industry rather than decimating it?

Farming Techniques... and Zombies (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 10 months ago | (#43981663)

As the article points out, I'm wondering if farming techniques and the propensity to have homogenous crops are more to blame than climate change. True, temperature rises means that plants at various elevations are more susceptible to the disease, but the spread seems, in my opinion, to be more related to plants that are close together and of the same genetic variety. Its possible that if they spread things out and plant different variants that the problem wouldn't be as pronounced.

Of course, without coffee we may be unleashing the Zombie Apocalypse....

Sell Your Starbucks Stock Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43981783)

Ditto.

Well (1)

no-body (127863) | about 10 months ago | (#43981895)

Growing coffee in the current industrialized fashion (not organic growers) makes heavy use of fung/pesticides. Cofee beans after harvested and spread out to dry are sprayed daily with fungicides.

Maybe, just maybe the undesired organisms are getting adapted to the poisons, survive and hamper production?

It's big business for the chemical industry selling all that poison....

Future of Good Coffee Threatened (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#43982231)

...The US has nothing to fear, then.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...