Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Pray to Robigus
Click to enlarge picture to see how Lebanon is on the path of the Black Stem Rust fungus. The fungus can destroy whole fields of wheat and caused famines throughout history to the extent that Romans prayed to a special Rust God, Robigus. The fungus wiped out 40% of US wheat production in 1954, and was stockpiled as a biological weapon by both he US and the USSR during the cold war. Green Revolution scientists bred Rust-resistant wheat varieties, which became used thoughout the world. A new, virulent and resistant strain was discovered in Uganda in 1999, moved to Yemen, and is now expected to show up in the Levant. The famines that were banished by the advent of disease-resistant crops in the Green Revolution of the 1960s could return, Borlaug told New Scientist.