Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Global Gluten Free Diet?

Anyone ever heard of Ug99 - the latest and worst wheat stem rust strain? Me either, but we should probably pay some attention. Ug99 is a fungal disease that affects cereal grains like wheat and barley - the poisonous gluten to those of us with Celiac Disease. This latest strain was discovered in Uganda in 1999, thus the Ug99 name. Bottom line, it has the potential to destroy the WORLD's wheat crop (as well as other cereal grains). So why should we care if we are already not eating these grains? I'd imagine that if everyone moved to eating rice, corn, etc... that would drive up the price no? I'm sure this would have a serious global economic and social impact as well. A global Gluten Free Diet?

As of now, the disease has spread from Uganda and has now jumped the Red Sea, from east Africa to Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and is perfectly positioned to move on to Egypt, the Middle East, and Asia. The Middle East and Asia’s 160-plus million acres of fields, which account for a quarter of the word’s annual wheat harvest, are in the direct path of the disease’s advance. And the spores of this fungal disease of plants could reach our continent sooner or later.

The race is on for scientists to genetically modify wheat seeds that are more resistant to Ug99.

Check out the US Department of Agriculture's Ug99 Web site.

Here are a couple interesting articles about this threat.
Article 1
Article 2


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