Biotech Updates

Scientists Report Growing Threat of Wheat Rust in Vulnerable Nations Worldwide

April 29, 2011

Researchers, institutes, and policy makers gathered at the International Wheat Stripe Rust Symposium in Aleppo, Syria on 18-21 April 2011 to review the current status of wheat stem and stripe rust epidemics in different countries. It was reported during the symposium that new strains of the wheat diseases have appeared, destroying up to 40 percent of growers' wheat fields in the past harvests. Areas affected by the new strains are North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucuses, including Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Hans Braun, director of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), challenged policy makers to invest more heavily in agricultural research. New rust resistance varieties are being developed in international and national research centers to help farmers increase production amidst various wheat rust attacks. Wafa El Khoury, coordinator of the Wheat Rust Disease Global Program at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) emphasized that "coordination and timely information sharing among all the stakeholders—from surveillance and plant protection officers, to wheat breeders, seed system and extension agents, and farmers—is key."

Read the media release at