Home > Growing GM Foods > Fungus Threats to GM Crops

Fungus Threats to GM Crops

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 2 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fungus Gm Foods Genetically Modified

The very word 'fungus' can make most of us cringe when we think about it in terms of our homes or bodies. But fungus is also a very real threat to our foods as well. Not only is it a problem for foods after we have purchased them but it can destroy crops in the fields, creating an enormous challenge for farmers.

New outbreaks of a threatening fungus have meant that researchers needed to rapidly find ways to develop GM crops to resist the fungus. While they have been successful, we also have to look at what this means for the future of farming.

Stem Rust Fungus

A specific kind of fungus called stem rust fungus has become a major threat to crops around the world. It's considered one of the worst diseases for wheat and has been an issue in recent years, although the problem died down somewhat after it was last a concern in the 1960s.

GM Technology

The fungus strain is known as Ug99 and spreads quite rapidly. However, a new genetically modified (GM) version of wheat may prove to be the answer to this fungus. Researchers have recently reported the successful development of new kinds of wheat that are resistant to Ug99.

You might be surprised to learn that the 1960s crisis was handled through GM technology as well. So, why the outbreak now? The problem relates to plant immunity. Initially, three genes were engineered into wheat to resist the fungus. But, any mutation can mean that the fungal spores are able to thrive, leading to infection of the crop.

New Advances to Treat Crop Fungus

A new array of genes should now take care of the problem, making it more difficult for the fungus to survive and spread. This new variety of wheat is engineered with this combination of genes and has shown exciting promise in testing thus far.

Depending on the area of the world affected, a number of wheat varieties that have high yields have been developed with the gene complex at the core. The other key benefit of these new kinds of wheat is that they are higher yielding than the old varieties. Of course, they also do what they have been developed to do, which is to resist the deadly fungus.

Cautiously Approaching the Future

Still, even with the positive advancements in GM technology for handling the fungus crisis, there is concern that the fungus will continue to evolve and may develop immunity yet again.

Also, the fungal issue is one that is affecting a number of countries around the world, which means that ensuring each geographic area can handle the fungus and receive access to the high yielding wheat is vital for success.

For now, it is hoped that the new wheat is successful and accessible to all of the farmers who need it while long-term plans for the future involve readiness to promptly deal with new outbreaks if the fungus again becomes immune to the wheat. Our food supply must remain sustainable and safe but whether genetic engineering is the best answer remains to be seen.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Drwhite
    Re: What Are the Cost Benefits of GM Foods?
    This article is really bad and not understandable! I really struggled to follow the text.
    11 January 2018
  • amethystmoon
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Gmo's are interuupting the spirtual world and disrupting the connection between true Pagans and the god and goddess. My powers and…
    30 October 2017
  • Goya1981
    Re: GM Foods in Asia
    The Issue with GMO is uncertainty that even those who develop it do not have it yet on what will happen to those who use GMO foods and the exposed…
    22 September 2017
  • CloBear
    Re: Can GM Foods Cause Allergies?
    The benefits of GM foods outweigh the stupid allergy thing. GM foods can feed tons of people.
    16 September 2017
  • A-Nickey
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    I have an assignment and this is the article I chose to review it's credibility. Would you mind linking me the sources of where you…
    28 August 2017
  • Dr Robotnic
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Do you believe that we could further develop GMO technology and if so, how
    3 July 2017
  • alley43217
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    (I think religion should be put out of this issue, seeing it's a sensitive topic)
    22 May 2017
  • capitalistic bastard
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    If god is real then he would accept all his children. Including the lizard people and the angry demimgod Xenu. And I think he would…
    27 April 2017
  • dunno
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    Okay seriously calm down for one we don't know if god is real or not because we don't have solid proof except for "man's" word and we…
    25 April 2017
  • dragonhunter
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    i think that they can help alot.
    24 April 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GeneticallyModifiedFoods website. Please read our Disclaimer.