Wheat Fungus Could Cause Mass Starvation

Aftershock of the Strongest Arabian Sea Hurricane

Cyclone Gonu When Tropical Cyclone Gonu swept through the Arabian Sea in June 2007, there was wonderment at its size - the first recorded Category 5 hurricane in that part of the world - and concern over both loss of life and loss of oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region.

But the larger concern may be an epidemic of world hunger, as new research shows.

That's because Cyclone Gonu blew a wheat fungus out of Africa and toward the Asian breadbasket, speeding by an estimated two years the spread of the devastating crop disease, called Ug99.

Already in Iran, the fungus may also have reached Pakistan and the Punjab region considered the Asian bread basket.

"Scientists met this week in Syria to decide on emergency measures to track Ug99's progress. They hope to slow its spread by spraying fungicide or even stopping farmers from planting wheat in the spores' path", New Scientist reports. "The only real remedy will be new wheat varieties that resist Ug99, and they may not be ready for five years. The fungus has just pulled ahead in the race".