Call Of The Wild

23 May 2007

A report by the Washington DC-based Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) concludes that global warming risks making wild varieties of plants such as potatoes and peanuts extinct over the next 50 years or so, eliminating traits that could help modern crops to resist pests or disease.

The study took into account three plants: the peanut, the potato and the vigna, or cowpea, a major food crop in Africa.

Its findings show that up to 61 percent of 51 species of wild peanut and 12 percent of 108 wild potato species could be extinct by mid-century, largely due to greenhouse gases released by human use of fossil fuels.

The cowpea was the most resilient of the three species studied with just two of 48 wild strains at risk of extinction.

‘There is an urgent need to identify and effectively conserve crop wild relatives that are at risk of climate change,’ says the report, which urges governments to do more to preserve the wild relatives of crops in nature and in seed banks.

The CGIAR is a strategic alliance of members, partners and international agricultural centers that mobilizes science to benefit the poor. Its mission is to achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through scientific research and research-related activities in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, policy, and environment.

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

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