Looks like we might have to say goodbye to wheat products if the fears of a group of scientists are realized. These products include bread, cereals, cakes, and biscuits. A fungus that infects common wheat, Ug99, appears to be spreading around the world fast, and might quickly kill off one of the world’s largest cash crops if something isn’t done to stop it. According to the article in the LA Times:
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico
estimates that 19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1
billion people in Asia and Africa, is in imminent danger. American
plant breeders say $10 billion worth of wheat would be destroyed if the
fungus suddenly made its way to U.S. fields.
Scientists have perhaps managed to breed a strain of wheat that is resistant to Ug99, but it would mean replacing and propogating this new breed across the world.
It highlights a larger problem with world cash crops in general: they’re highly prone to sudden attacks from a single source, purely because, through farming methods, genetic diversion isn’t happening anymore. Bananas are a very good example of a crop that is in danger of being wiped out as a human-consumable food. This is the precise reason, for example, that Australian immigration is very tough on what comes into the country.
So enjoy your breads while you can!