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Newly Discovered Fungus Threatens World Wheat Crop

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the swarm-of-hungry-hungry-hippos-not-helping dept.

Biotech 236

RickRussellTX writes "The UN reports that a variety of the rust fungus originally detected in Uganda in 1999 has already spread as far north as Iran, threatening wheat production across its range. The fungus infects wheat stems and affects 80% of wheat varieties, putting crops at risk and threatening the food sources for billions of people across central Asia. Although scientists believe they can develop resistant hybrids, the fungus is moving much faster than anticipated and resistant hybrids may still be years away. Meanwhile, national governments in the path of the fungus are telling folks that there is nothing to worry about."

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First? (-1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769930)

I for one welcome our Wheat threatening fungi overlords

Billions in Central Asia? (1, Interesting)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769934)

What's the definition of "central Asia"? Is there really "billions of people" there?

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769964)

Hey!

Locusts are people, too.

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (5, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770066)

What's the definition of "central Asia"? Is there really "billions of people" there?

A few seconds research would've give you an answer [wikipedia.org] (80 million for the lazy).

I think however that the range of the fungus is far wider than just central Asia. Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia (along with the countries they supply grain to] could be affected, along with the rest of the world if the fungus continues to spread.

New scientist has a better article [newscientist.com] (from almost a year ago).

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (1)

call-me-kenneth (1249496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770870)

We're all doomed - DOOMED, I tell you!

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770102)

Yes, fucking asshole.

Let's not allow your total ignorance spread doubt about this very important topic.

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770308)

Thank god for your contribution, huh?

Re:Billions in Central Asia? (2, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770846)

One might also ask what the definition of "newly discovered" is nowadays.
Given the ever increasing rate of change, somehow 1999 doesn't cut it for me...

It's okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22769936)

with government subsidies for ethanol production, farmers won't be growing a whole lot of wheat for much longer.

Re:It's okay (1)

sethawoolley (1005201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770362)

with government subsidies for ethanol production, farmers won't be growing a whole lot of wheat for much longer.
My response: industrial hemp

Re:It's okay (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770460)

Of course hemp comes up! Hemp does everything! [abovetopsecret.com] With it, you can make rope, clothes, food, furnature, computer chips, gold, planets, the One Ring, you name it, hemp can do it!

Q: I've heard hemp mills are awfully loud.
A: They run as quiet as a cloud.

Q: What if, perchance, hemp plastics should bend?
A: Not on your life, my stoner friend.

Q: What about us doped-up slobs?
A: You'll be given cushy jobs!

Q: The ring came off my pudding can!
A: Use a hemp one, my good man.

Q: Were you sent here by the devil?
A: No, good sir, I'm on the level.

You see, America, hemp's your only choice. Put down your bongs and raise your voice!

You're such a... (2, Funny)

greatscottsby (1233952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770696)

Fungi!! (Fun-guy)!!

Why Yes, We Have Some Resistant Hybrids Right Here (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22769944)

Monsanto will be happy to sell them to you, it won't cost much at all, really...

Boom! (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769950)

The question isn't whether we need to send John Madden in with some Boom! Fast Actin' Tinactin!, but can we eat this new fungus?

Some fungi are delicious.

Re:Boom! (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770182)

but can we eat this new fungus?

Only for recreational purposes [hawaii.edu] .

Re:Boom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770578)

but can we eat this new fungus?
Only for recreational purposes.
Great! - Let's *RECREATE* !!![1111(0,25*4,, etc.)]

I mean, where are the girls, anyway?

You have... (1)

Bored MPA (1202335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770364)

You have one serious foot fetish.

what is this 'wheat' you speak of (1)

hildi (868839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769956)

i go to the grocery store, that is where my food comes from. silly asians.

No Blade of Grass...? (5, Insightful)

$kr1p7_k177y (208396) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769958)

Re:No Blade of Grass...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770348)

Yep, the exact thing came to my mind when I read the article.... Scary stuff!

panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769960)

i'm so sick of being told of what i need to be afraid of. no wonder the world is full of pill popping zombies, i just wish these people would fuck off with their end of the world nonesense.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770018)

Think about it. Right now, one of the major breadbaskets of the Unites States, the Palouse region, is in perfect shape weather-wise for a bumper crop of wheat this year. We do not exactly have a shortage. But overseas they might... AND the dollar is low...

Sound to me like U.S. wheat farmers are going to clean up this year.

Just send everything one way, okay, guys? We don't want that fungus over here!



But since the apocalyptic scenario has been brought up: what a great illustration of the fact that we have WAY too much of our food crops being grown as huge tracts of monoculture, often all the same crop and all the same species. What a great target for famine-causing organisms.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (5, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770108)

what a great illustration of the fact that we have WAY too much of our food crops being grown as huge tracts of monoculture, often all the same crop and all the same species. What a great target for famine-causing organisms.

While I generally agree with your sentiment, I was surprised to read (in this article [newscientist.com] ) that:

Black stem rust itself is nothing new. It has been a major blight on heat production since the rise of agriculture, and the Romans even prayed to a stem rust god, Robigus. It can reduce a field of ripening grain to a dead, tangled mass, and vast outbreaks egularly used to rip through wheat regions. The last to hit the North American breadbasket, in 1954, wiped out 40 per cent of the crop. In the cold war both the US and the Soviet Union stockpiled stem rust spores as a biological weapon.
So... rust fungus has been less of a problem in recent years, when we've been less diverse. Quite interesting.

(oh, and I now have a new favorite God - Robigus.)

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (5, Insightful)

odoketa (1040340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770238)

According to the NPR interview I heard with some science-type person on this, the monoculture we've bred was resistant to rust, so you would expect to see numbers going down... until a version of the fungus able to overcome that resistance comes along. Which is what has happened here.

I just finished a book on phylloxera [wikipedia.org] , and I find it interesting to see some of the parallels. Apparently 100 years is not enough time to learn from mistakes....

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (4, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770384)

Apparently 100 years is not enough time to learn from mistakes...

100 years is too long. Hardly anyone lives that long, and nobody has time to read about all that has gone on before, and even if they did, they wouldn't be doing anything, they'd be reading about it. Nobody listens to people who just read about stuff, they're just a bunch of nerds.

You need good old politics to get stuff done. We'll ignore the wheat blight and grow corn to burn in our cars, and when the wheat crop fails, maybe we'll remember we can eat corn instead!

Then politicians can take credit for staving off the famine by encouraging corn farmers.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770600)

I just finished a book on phylloxera, and I find it interesting to see some of the parallels. Apparently 100 years is not enough time to learn from mistakes....
Good book? Care to recommend (or not)?

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (5, Informative)

owenc67202 (901889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770140)

> Sound to me like U.S. wheat farmers are going to clean up this year. Actually most US wheat farmers sold their crop for this year long ago. That's one of the reasons wheat prices are already through the roof. Most of the sales out there are people fighting over the small amount of wheat that is still available. Farmers saw $7 wheat prices and sold as fast as they could. Never did they imagine that wheat would go over $10.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770322)

Harvests here in Australia (one of the largest exporters) have been down by as much as 60% in recent years due to the extended drought in the SE of the country. IIRC there has only been one or two relatively good harvests in the past decade.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770664)

i'm from wheat country, and let me assure you most of that stems from farmers wanting government assistance. here we had farmers on both drought AND flood assistance. figure that one out.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1, Flamebait)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770708)

What? You're from wheat country?

in what country? .au?
can you clarify that?

Too bad! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770710)

That's one of the inherent evils of the commodity markets: "counting your chickens before they hatch".

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770352)

Excellent point about the need for biodiversity.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770742)

So can we start charging $100 a bushel like they charge us $100 a barrel?

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (-1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770024)

okay first of all, who cares about wheat? When fungi start attacking air, call me. And second...what if some of those pills are made of wheat though? hehehe.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770054)

Who cares about wheat? People who like to eat, that's who.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770116)

Actually, people who are gluten-free won't give a crap.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770300)

They just might mind if everyone else - rather suddenly - had to become 'gluten-free' as well.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (0, Flamebait)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770052)

i'm so sick of being told of what i need to be afraid of. no wonder the world is full of pill popping zombies, i just wish these people would fuck off with their end of the world nonesense.
Well, you are doomed either way.
1) Either this fungus will destroy all wheat because the anti-GM-Foods hippies will demand that it's better to let people starve [worldpress.org] than to let them eat GM-foods.
2) We tell those hippies to wank it and use the GM wheat that is immune to this fungus only to have it kill everyone right as we realize that cyanide is what was making it immune.

You can't win. It really doesn't matter as the shrinking Ozone layer... I mean Global Warming will kill us all anyway.

Nobody (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770084)

Can tell you what to be afraid of, they can only tell you what they are afraid of. Personally, I favour the approach of knowing more about a subject before dismissing it, and I regard this new problem as potentially very significant. However, there is a huge difference between what is possible and what actually happens. H5N1 is a possible threat (and can therefore be prevented before it becomes actual). AIDS is an actual disaster and, no matter what is ever achieved, the best that can be done is preventing that disaster from becoming worse. You can't prevent it from being a tragedy at this point. Global warming - well, it depends on who you talk to. James Lovelock - one of the world's premiere environmental scientists - thinks prevention is now impossible. Others, just as notable, think it is. World wheat collapses? A lot of land has been cleared for beef (and, these days, corn) around the world, well outside the affected areas, so I'm inclined to think that action is still possible... ...but only if it's taken seriously as a possibility. It's when nobody cares that things become a disaster.

As for the over-medicated culture we live in, that's still about not caring. If people cared, they wouldn't avoid. If they didn't avoid, they wouldn't need over-medicating. Avoiding by apathy or by drugs is the same thing.

Re:Nobody (1, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770192)

Aids is a joke in historical terms.

A large portion of the population of africa will be immune to it in under 100 years. And it will still be virulent to the rest of the world -- mostly because the mortality rate in africa has been very high so there is an extreme selective pressure.

Any population... bacteria... humans... deer... will suffer large losses but the survivors will repopulate at a very high rate.

The loss of food is probably more dangerous since we might exterminate ourselves fighting over that last slice of toast.

Immunity is fiction. (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770408)

There is no resistance to it. Not a single person has survived exposure to the virus. The few supposed exceptions turned out not to be. The body cannot adjust to it. HIV is a polymorphic virus that mutates almost every replication. There is no evolutionary pressure to be resistant to it, because there is no survival rate. Same as there's no build-up in antibiotic-resistant bacteria when medication is taken correctly and appropriately. Resistant people in Africa or anywhere else is a nice fiction but should be left in Neuromancer.

Re:Immunity is fiction. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770794)

It would seem a tiny user id and an assertive tone is what passes for 'informative' 'round here.

http://www.aegis.com/news/newsday/1998/ND980701.html [aegis.com]

Re:Immunity is fiction. (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770956)

That article is over 10 years old....

Re:Nobody (3, Interesting)

FrostedChaos (231468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770728)

If you look at the example of malaria, sleeping sickness, and yellow fever-- all of which are scourges in Africa-- I think you'll see that 100 years is far too short for humans to evolve a way around AIDS. Anyway, up until scientific medicine came on the scene, cholera, smallpox, and whooping cough routinely decimated Europe. So it's not even clear that people would become immune naturally, even in thousands of years.

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770282)

i'm so sick of being told of what i need to be afraid of. no wonder the world is full of pill popping zombies, i just wish these people would fuck off with their end of the world nonesense.

Crap, now I'm afraid of pill-popping zombies...

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770472)

Crap, now I'm afraid of pill-popping zombies...
I can see it now: "We want our Qualudes - and brains!"

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770350)

I agree.

And surely this fungus has been in existence for a while before we discovered it and would have wiped out crops by now at least.

I have a feeling it's some bio-war project as one may notice that many of these new strains of this and that tend to originate in africa

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (1)

Geak (790376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770486)

My only questions is whether this fungus has similar properties to a certain fungus that grows on rye grain - ergot fungus, an important ingredient in the manufacturing of LSD. Perhaps this has something to do with the poor quality control of everything we import from china.

Chinese Factory Worker: What's this RavMonE.exe file? Whoa - look at the colors on this ipod man - far out!

Supervisor: You just installed a virus on the ipod. Ship it anyway. I don't feel like filling out the paperwork. If Apple tries to sue us after the recall, our government will just ignore it. This will never see a courtroom. The West will be screwed with another virus, we'll get contracts with antivirus vendors to press their CD's, package them and ship them. Meanwhile we'll leak free copies to every pirate in the country, so they don't get infected, and when they sue, our government will just ignore it... and the cycle starts again.

When will North American companies start wising up to this?

Re:panic merchants seek attention, news a 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770808)

I'm sure people said much the same thing during the Black Death [wikipedia.org] in Europe. Stupid "end of the world" loonies. Get a grip! Famine only has the potential for vast human suffering.

Now, if War, Pestilence and Death show up, then we should worry.

Strangely the brits (1, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22769982)

are moaning about wheat production and asia sucking up production capacity at the moment as well. How ironic would it be after all the billions spent on security if we suffer catastrophic population denudation due to the simple fact we can't feed ourselves. Go mother nature, lets have some balance restored.

Re:Strangely the brits (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770208)

are moaning about wheat production and asia sucking up production capacity at the moment as well. How ironic would it be after all the billions spent on security if we suffer catastrophic population denudation due to the simple fact we can't feed ourselves. Go mother nature, lets have some balance restored.
Really? You are hoping for famine that could cause billions of innocent people to starve just to teach us a lesson? Seriously?

Re:Strangely the brits (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770380)

We 'cant feed' Africa. Suddenly its serious when the west might be facing a food shortage. Whats the loss here if mother nature kills us all.

Re:Strangely the brits (2, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770562)

You do know that, if the US chose to - we could grow enough food to feed every single person on this earth. And provide them all with hundreds of gallons of fresh water every day. And not need a single extra acre of farmland.

Starvation in Africa is a political - not resource - problem. Starvation ANYWHERE is a political problem. Food is there, it can be grown, it could be delivered. But some tyrants prefer to starve their population...

You're thinking in terms of EVIL (1)

Calledor (859972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770768)

Which is a mistake because not even evil people think of themselves as such. You're right in that there is absolutely no reason that anyone in the world should be thirsty, hungry, or suffering from just about anything we have forgotten about as a life threatening illness in America. It's money though. The driving need to have something extra, to raising yourself that much further above your fellow man, is the only reason people are dying of the things you bemoan.

So what then is the moral, the wisdom from this fact? World of Warcraft imitates life. The richest people, and the people who make the game suck for the rest of us, are the assholes that have nothing better to do than to get more money and beat us down with their god damn twink corporations. Fuck the twinks.

Re:Strangely the brits (1)

unbug (1188963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770828)

You do know that, if the US chose to - we could grow enough food to feed every single person on this earth. And provide them all with hundreds of gallons of fresh water every day. And not need a single extra acre of farmland.
So if that's true, what does it say about the US or the EU or any other rich country/region? Nothing good, that's for sure.

Not even close to true (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770856)

that use to be true, Back in the late 50's. We were the wealthiest nation on the earth, and more important, the earth's population was sustainable (2 billion). Not anymore.

Now
  1. population is at 6 billion and growing fast.
  2. pollution levels are enormous; china is well beyond what the entire world had in the 50's.
  3. the strain on FRESH CLEAN water is well beyond our abilities to handle it (and about to get worse due to GW).
No, we are LONG past the time when America COULD have handled things. As to tyrants "prefering" to starve their pop, that is not even close. I seriously doubt that anybody CHOOSES to starve their population. They are just incompetent idiots who are being backed by either EU, America or China and kept in power because of that (and yes, various countries EU still quietly backs various bad nations).

Re:Strangely the brits (1)

unbug (1188963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770838)

Really? You are hoping for famine that could cause billions of innocent people to starve just to teach us a lesson? Seriously?
No, people who want a lesson taught always want it to be taught to someone else. Never to themselves or, by extension, the specific group they belong to.

No, but (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770920)

I believe that far too many nations have done far too little to control their populations. [wikipedia.org] All of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are growing quickly. The west is actually shrinking except for immigration. Some of the monster problems remain that groups like Mormons and Catholics are pushing against population control. They are literally hoping to grow their growth (that is why the catholic church desperately NEEDS a pope from South America, rather than EU; all of the clergy there wants controls; hopefully that happens when the ex-nazi is gone). And the two nation that MUST put on stricter controls is China and India. Both govs are afraid to do so, so push emigration as a way to lower their population. That will make things worse, not better. As it is, those that immigrate from those nations are not the average populace, but their best and brightest; the very ppl that they need there. Mother nature is about to teach the world a lesson, regardless of what we want. Is he hoping for famine? I doubt that he wants things to be that cruel. But even a number of DOD studies show that this is coming.

Re:Strangely the brits (2, Insightful)

Firrenzi (229219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770932)

We have fscked this world over for so long with chemicals, polutants and toxins and we are reaping what we have soon. for the last 200 years we have not lived in balance, consuming too much, not producing enough and not respecting the balance of ecologies and their requirements. Fisheries die out, we plant mono crop setups that rape the ground of it's resources without putting anything back. We live outside of the seasons in our own constructed time, and try to run it our way instead of natural physical laws that peoples have worked with for thousands of years.

We fsck with biotoxins, dna splicing and nature in general to seek a better breed, but care not for the delicate balance that must be preserved. What diversity of species do we have compared now to 200, 300 years ago?

The ecosystems can be so complex that we struggle to understand them, yet we do all these things knowingly that we are abusing delicate balances that should not be upset. The saddest things is that 'we know what we do' and continue to do it.

We have a responsibility as sentient beings to this planet and we are fsking it into the ground. No sadly we reap what we sow. Cause and effect

Re:Strangely the brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770256)

Meh, since I have more money than you, I will be ok. Enjoy your starvation.

Re:Strangely the brits (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770390)

not if i hunt you down and skin you.

Re:Strangely the brits (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770492)

Are you, perchance, part of the peak oil doom cult [blogspot.com] ?

just eat it (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770000)

just eat it

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_smut [wikipedia.org]

Considered a pest in most of the United States, smut feeds off the corn plant and decreases the yield. Usually smut-infected crops are destroyed. However, in Mexico corn smut is called huitlacoche (IPA: [witakote], sometimes spelled cuitlacoche), a Nahuatl word reportedly meaning raven's excrement [1]. It is considered a delicacy, even being preserved and sold for a higher price than corn. For culinary use, the galls are harvested while still immature -- fully mature galls are dry and almost entirely spore-filled. The immature galls, gathered two to three weeks after an ear of corn is infected, still retain moisture and, when cooked, have a flavor described as mushroom-like, sweet, savory, woody, and earthy. Flavor compounds include sotolon and vanillin, as well as the sugar glucose.


uh... never mind

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergot [wikipedia.org]

Ergotism is the name for sometimes severe pathological syndromes affecting humans or animals that have ingested ergot alkaloid-containing plant material, such as ergot-contaminated grains. The common name for ergotism is "St. Anthony's fire", in reference to the symptoms, such as severe burning sensations in the limbs.[3] These are caused by effects of ergot alkaloids on the vascular system due to vasoconstriction of blood vessels, sometimes leading to gangrene and loss of limbs due to severely restricted blood circulation. The neurotropic activities of the ergot alkaloids may also cause hallucinations and attendant irrational behaviour, convulsions, and even death.[1][2] Other symptoms include strong uterine contractions, nausea, seizures, and unconsciousness. Historically, controlled doses of ergot were used to induce abortions and to stop maternal bleeding after childbirth. Ergot alkaloids are also used in products such as Cafergot (containing caffeine and ergotamine or ergoline) to treat migraine headaches. Simple ergot extract is no longer used as a pharmaceutical preparation.[citation needed] Monks of the order of St. Anthony the Great specialized in treating ergotism victims with balms containing tranquilizing and circulation-stimulating plant extracts; they were also skilled in amputations.[citation needed]

Re:just eat it (-1, Troll)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770038)

I think I would stick some in my ass and masturbate to a picture of Pudge. Corn hole-ing indeed.

Triticale will probably kick it's butt (2, Interesting)

cyberzephyr (705742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770006)

I think it's too soon to worry about a rust that only eats wheat. If you look here: www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/triticale.html You will see that there is a Wheat form that people have been using for a long time and with no problems. They might be complaining that beer production might go down!

Re:Triticale will probably kick it's butt (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770088)

Don't you mean quatrotriticale, my little tribble friend?

Strains (3, Interesting)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770020)

I wish the article would have mentioned how related the African and Asian wheat strains were to European and American strains. Since US corn crops are about 85% genetically similar doesn't make the situation in the US good at all. If it does hit the US pretty hard we may be seeing wheat coming from Mexico most likely.

Re:Strains (5, Funny)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770076)

Great. Among everything else we now have to worry about illegal wheat crossing the border.

Re:Strains (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770720)

I say we allow the illegals so long as they are carrying a bag of wheat.

Re:Strains (3, Informative)

Fireshadow (632041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770416)

This is real scary. According to National Association of Wheat Growers, "The United State would also be highly vulnerable to Ug99, with recent assessments suggesting that more than 50% of hard winter wheat and more than 75% of hard spring wheat acreage are currently planted to varieties that are susceptible to Ug99". (I'd post the reference link, but the filter complained about the length!)
According to this page [suite101.com] , world wheat reserves are the lowest in 25 years. I would not trust trying to buy one's food on the global market anytime soon.

Top it off with W's plans (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770942)

W. is pushing for corn to be used for fuel. So we are going to get a double whammy. Corn and wheat being taken off them food market. It would appear that living may get a LOT more expensive.

Re:Top it off with W's plans (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770968)

W is on his way out, and hopefully whoever replaces him will actually listen to his/her scientific advisors.

Re:Strains (5, Informative)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770462)

My understanding is that the USDA has a plan to combat this fungus. This involves planting highly resistant wheat in the south during the winter while the northern regions get too cold for the fungus to survive. With no place to take hold in the south and a death zone in the north, the fungus should go away. (source [sciencedaily.com] )

Re:Strains (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770500)

Only 85%? Aren't humans and earthworms like 90% similar?

Oh, no! (5, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770036)

There's a fungus amongus!

Re:Oh, no! (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770126)

Nice use of that incubus album name.

+1 witty

Re:Oh, no! (4, Funny)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770200)

But is the fungus among us humongous?

Re:Oh, no! (2, Funny)

catmistake (814204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770342)

ergo, I am seeing things

This is bad (4, Informative)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770040)

The USDA reports [usda.gov] that the virus can infect wheat which has the (previously) most effective rust resistant genes.

Work is being done [newscientist.com] to protect crops, but Norman Borlaug [wikipedia.org] says "This thing has immense potential for social and human destruction." Oh yes, and you can say goodbye to cheap white bread [coldclimategardening.com] .

cheap white bread is bad (3, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770136)

Eat your vegetables. Seriously.

Re:This is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22770290)

Maybe this will mean that people will eat less wheat and become healthier [amazon.com] . Maybe it will mean that farmers find other food crops to grow, diversifying our food sources, and making people (and economies) healthier in general.

Gluten (the thing that makes dough dough) may actually be a genetic adaption to prevent animals from eating it. I know that people don't want to hear this news, but our farm subsidies and reliance on monolithic food crops is not only unhealthy, but unsustainable in the long run.

This is coming from a bread lover.

We'll be fine (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770096)

Meanwhile, national governments in the path of the fungus are telling folks that there is nothing to worry about.
You heard them. Move along people, nothing to see here.

Re:We'll be fine (4, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770242)

Don't worry. The UN will publish a strongly worded resolution telling the fungus to stop. If that doesn't work they'll send a wheat-keeping force.

Nothing to see here.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770114)

Hey, since when does a loaf of bread cost $15? Or a pack of ramen cost $4.99?

or..

"This is the FBI. You're under arrest for posessing ergot or ergot-derived chemicals!"

This is so awesome!!! (2, Informative)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770186)

I have been waiting for this day since I was diagnosed with C(o)eliac Disease [wikipedia.org]
Now everyone has to use rice flour! ;) (well, it feeds half the world anyway)

jdb2

One wheat, easy target. (1)

Cr0vv (1223332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770228)

It's no wonder that this rust infection is spreading, it's supposed to. Usually only ONE strain of wheat is grown. I think this is because the herbicide industry lobbying the governments so they can make a great deal of money at the expense of the people. We all know how is supposed to be grown: Plant different types of wheat and grain so that they can evolve and develop resistance against disease. Simple. Cr0vv.

Faithy Governments (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770270)

Why shouldn't governments run on the basis of faith lie when the truth is too much to bear?

And I'm not just talking theocracies. What else would we expect to hear in the US, except yet another chorus after the catastrophe hits saying "No one could have anticipated [this catastrophe people had warned would happen would happen]"?

Anyone else remember Katrina, 9/11/2001, the mortgage collapse, Iraq?

disgusting public showers (0)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770286)

This all started because of one farmer who showered without flip flops in one of those disgusting public showers and then walked barefoot with his fungus-infected feet in the fields.

The new "Cash Crop" or $$$$$$ Crop (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770326)

There's a lot of money to be made in genetically modifying crops wether to make them resistant to drought, fungus, insects, increase yields, etc.

Governments -not private industry- should join together and create a solution wether it is to truly isolate the crops (e.g. Mad Cow) which is really hard with wind and insects. The better solution would be to do joint research in combating the fungus and/or creating a genetic modification.

The last thing we need is for private companies to be the first to create a "solution". We've already seen what companies like Mosanto has done in Canada by winning its case as I recall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser).

Prices of wheat have already risen this year as farmers are growing corn for ethanol so at least in North America we really need to protect our existing crops in an economic way. I'd really hate to see wheat being imported from China. Governments (hopefully) won't patent a genetic modification whereas if a private company is involved - who knows what the price of wheat will cost in the future!

Pellegrino /Dust/ (2, Interesting)

Olaf Underbridge (717091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770394)

This reminds me of the novel /Dust/ by Charles Pellegrino. See
http://www.sfsite.com/05b/dust33.htm for a pretty good review.
ISBN-10: 0380787423
ISBN-13: 978-0380787425
http://www.amazon.com/Dust-Charles-R-Pellegrino/dp/0380787423/

The world has a way of taking care of itself (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770418)

Gotta love it. Monsanto to the rescue!!!

Actually, I hope they don't. One of the worst foods we humans have gotten hooked on has been processed wheat...and that's just about the only way we can buy it. In any case, there are plenty of substitutes... some things just as bad... a few are actually worse.

cyberpunk 2013 rpg profecy (1)

drfrog (145882) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770420)

there was a point in the cyberpunk timeline that said most of the north american wheat crops were devastated by an unknown virus of some sort

wish i could find an online copy of the timeline...

still always trips me out when science fiction predicts//feeds wordward to these sort of things

Amaranth (4, Interesting)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770468)

I hear buzz growing about amaranth [dailykos.com] as a grain contender. Better protein, restores soil nutrients, etc.

1999 = new discovered? (1)

Marbleless (640965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770536)

Wow, I know /. can be a little slow with news articles but this adds a whole new meaning to 'old news' ;)

I used to be paranoid (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770638)

But now it doesn't seem implausible to me that this could be some Monsanto creation designed to sell their soon-to-be-announced new fungus-resistant wheat.

At least we'll still have corn (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770716)

Oh right, the bees that pollinate corn are dying, too. What's plan C?

I wonder... what has become of (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770724)

I wonder... what has become of
- Africanized Bees
- The bird flu
- Anthrax
- Foot-and-mouth disease
- deadly, mutated flu from asia
- the banana fungus that will kill all banana supply
- deadly escalators
- that truck full of explosives on his way to germany
- shark attacks in holiday paradises
- streets running red with blood
- weapons of mass destruction

I am so sick of being told, what will kill me within the next 2 months!
Every year in summer there is another deadly threat approaching...
I can't hear it anymore!

Red Dawn (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770770)

Um, isn't this more or less how the movie Red Dawn began?

why... (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770836)

do I have the unnerving feeling that RoundUp-ready wheat is resistant to this fungus?

First homo sapiens mass-extinction since 1350? (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22770972)

Meanwhile, national governments in the path of the fungus are telling folks that there is nothing to worry about.
Meanwhile the breadbaskets of the world with econo-military axes to grind are rubbing their hands in unabashed glee. Winning the bio-economic war without even having to launch a single missile! This must be a first. Oh dear! I forget the story about smallpox infected blankets.
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