Friday, December 31, 2010

BrazilFood: Crop health: Funguses, viruses, other harmful organisms react fastest to changes in climate

30 Dec 2010
Source: Content Partner // Inter Press Service

BRAZIL: Climate Change Means New Crop Health Concerns

by Mario Osava - Tierramérica
 RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 30 (IPS) - Farming around the globe, already reeling from drought, heat waves and major storms, will have to prepare for the new challenges that global warming will bring, especially in the form of pests and disease.In Brazil, the Climapest project has brought together 134 researchers from 37 institutions to evaluate the potential effects of climate change on crop health, and to guide policies and provide options so that this South American and global agricultural leader can adapt.
The changes in climate "will not necessarily aggravate the crop diseases" in all cases, because warmer temperatures or increased carbon gases could impede the proliferation of certain microorganisms, but it is important to be ready for future scenarios because "generating solutions takes time," explained Raquel Ghini, project leader.
The small problems of today could turn into huge crop losses under future conditions, said the agronomist and plant pathologist, who works at the Environment Centre under the federal government's agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA.
Funguses, viruses and other agents that are harmful to agriculture are among the organisms that react fastest to changes in the climate, because of their short life cycles and their ability to reproduce quickly.
Climapest began in January 2009 and has a four-year mandate to study 85 problems of plant health affecting 16 crops, including major exports like coffee, soybeans and fruit (banana, apple and grape), as well as African palm and castor oils, both of which are gaining ground as raw material for biodiesel.  
Brazil has a chance to prepare for some very difficultu possiblities, before they become actual events.
-- Politicarp

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