Will coffee go extinct? Deadly fungus threatens one of the world’s favorite beverages

img custom dee e e fb bc a fcc b e s c
Coffee Rust, fungus linked to climate change threatens coffee plants in South America. Credit: Jeff Koehler, NPR

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, talking about a plant disease might seem frivolous. But around the world, 100 million people draw dignity and income from coffee, one of the world’s most traded agricultural products. Coffee is a lifeline for tiny towns and small farmers in areas too thin-soiled or forested or steep to grow much else.

As farmers run out of cash to combat coffee-leaf rust—and climate change diminishes the likelihood of relocating plants to safer ground—scientists are trying to blunt the power of the disease. But their efforts to rebreed plants and retrain farmers are up against a long history of ruin: The first caution about the disease, and the first proof of its destructive force, dates back more than 150 years.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Self-interest, rather than ignorance, key driver in GMO and climate change rejectionism
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

It can take 25 years to crossbreed coffee plants into a new type, and to test-grow the new plant through repeated generations to make sure it breeds true. The farmers in places where rust is advancing don’t have that kind of time. To accelerate replacement, World Coffee Research has been supporting development of what are called F1 hybrids, first-generation crosses from genetically distinct parents that can be ready for planting in fields within 10 years.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend