- Another mass extinction is under way, this one affecting our crops, the Guardian reported Tuesday. A large number of the plant species that form the foundation of our food supply — our agrobiodiversity — are now critically endangered, though few outside the sciences are aware of the threat.
- In Florida, a disease caused by an elusive psyllid insect called "citrus greening" is wiping out orange trees to the point of near extinction, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Experiments in genetic engineering are underway in an attempt to improve the trees' resiliency.
- An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that global warming will reduce agricultural production by 2% every decade, while demand will correspondingly increase by 14% until 2050. Traditional seed varieties immune to heat, drought and floods should be preserved and immediately employed in a crop-breeding program.
Few people realize that plants, and therefore food sources, can also become extinct.
Approximately 59% of edible produce fails to reach the hungry, though improved logistics could significantly reduce that percentage if properly implemented. One potential method involves making imperfect fruit or vegetables available for a reduced price, while another method relies on the supplier maintaining ownership of the item — in this example, an edible — until sold, which reduces the need for and time spent ripening at a distribution center.
Public awareness of endangered foods is limited, but even improved cold chains and food supply chains may not be enough to mitigate the problem, as several of the foods are endangered due to climate changes. These include honey (vanishing bee colonies), chocolate, coffee (global warming), strawberries (high temperatures), and peanut butter (drought). At a minimum, we can expect to pay a premium as these items become more expensive to cultivate.
One alternative to handling the crisis is to decrease reliance on imports and begin choosing native foods. Doing so will encourage farmers and producers to maintain a healthier crop diversity and reduce the growing demand for food that is endangered or difficult to procure.