"Scientists say millions of people face starvation following an outbreak of a deadly new strain of crop disease which is spreading across the wheat fields of Africa and Asia.
The disease, known as black stem rust, has already destroyed harvests in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Now researchers report that stem rust spores have blown across the Red Sea into the Arabian peninsula and infected wheat fields in Yemen. Spores have also blown northwards into Sudan.
'Varieties that had been resistant for many years were no longer resistant,' said Wafa Khoury, a plant pathologist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.
Within a year Ug99 was found in fields in Kenya and Uganda. The damage inflicted was severe but did not cause huge social problems because wheat is not a staple crop in either country. Nevertheless a field centre for Ug99 was established in Njoro and samples of wheat from around the world, including Argentina, Canada and Australia, were sent for testing. Virtually every single sample was found to be susceptible. 'That's what really caused the panic,' said Khoury.""