Breeders seek a breakthrough to help farmers facing an uncertain future. Diverse potatoes, such as these from Peru, will help breeders create resilient new varieties. On a bleak, brown hill here, David Ellis examines a test plot of potato plants and shakes his head. "They're dead, dead, dead," he says. Pests and lack of rain have laid waste to all 17 varieties that researchers had planted. It is a worrying sign for Ellis, the now-retired director of the gene bank at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima. People have grown potatoes in this rugged stretch of the Andes for thousands of years. In recent years, that task has gotten tougher, in part because of climate change. Drought and frost are striking more often.
Southern Africa is undergoing the worst drought in more than three decades. More than 30 million people in South Africa, Malawi, and my home country Zimbabwe are facing hunger. While this year's drought is largely attributed to the El Nino effect, rains have been increasingly erratic over the past two decades. This could be the new normal as climate change models forecast less rainfall and more extreme weather for much of East and Southern Africa. Moreover, experts project that we may be entering a time of global weather uncertainty, or a "dark age".
This story originally appeared on Grist and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. What Jonathan Sanderman really wanted was some old dirt. He called everyone he could think of who might know where he could get some. He emailed colleagues and read through old studies looking for clues, but he kept coming up empty. Sanderman was looking for old dirt because it would let him test a plan to save the world.
This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. What Jonathan Sanderman really wanted was some old dirt. He called everyone he could think of who might know where he could get some. He emailed colleagues and read through old studies looking for clues, but he kept coming up empty. Sanderman was looking for old dirt because it would let him test a plan to save the world.
ROME – Rich and poor countries are at loggerheads over how to share benefits from genetic plant data that could help breed crops better able to withstand climate change, as negotiations to revise a global treaty are set to resume in Rome on Monday. The little-known agreement is seen as crucial for agricultural research and development on a planet suffering from rising hunger, malnutrition and the impacts of climate change. "We need all the'genetics' around the world to be able to breed crops that will adapt to global warming," said Sylvain Aubry, a plant biologist who advises the Swiss government. Rising temperatures, water shortages and creeping deserts could reduce both the quantity and quality of food production, including staple crops such as wheat and rice, scientists have warned. The debate over "digital sequence information" has erupted as the cost of sequencing genomes falls, boosting the availability of genetic plant data, Aubry said.