The strain Ug99 stem rust, originally identified in Uganda in 1999, is carried by wind and has traveled beyond East Africa, reaching down to southern Africa so far. Experts fear it is only a matter of time before it hits the Indian subcontinent, Australia and the Americas.
Researchers, such as those of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat team at Cornell University, are optimistic that they can develop a wheat variety that will thwart the rust and be productive. Varieties under testing at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico have shown resistance to Ug99, yellow and leaf rust. They also boost yields. However, it will take time and money to produce and disburse the new seeds on a wide scale (“Scientists: ‘Super’ Wheat to Boost Food Security,” Minnesota.cbslocal.com, June 10, 2011).