Disease threatens wheat crops across the world

Published: Thursday 15 February 2007

A virulent wheat disease now threatens the world's wheat crops. According to reports of various international agricultural research centres, this stem rust, known as ug99, has already spread from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda over the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula.

Studies of wind patterns in the region have led scientists to predict that the pathogen could soon spread to India, Pakistan, the Middle East and North Africa, which together grow about 25 per cent of the world's wheat. The annual losses could be to the tune of us$3 billion.

Meanwhile, scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico, have warned in their recent press release that the threat level from the virulent fungus is rising, particularly because some wheat lines that showed resistance to ug99 stem rust a year ago, now appear to be susceptible to the disease.

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