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The joys of a dying ecosystem

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Jun. 26th, 2001 | 11:01 am

According to this article, the US wheat production has been hit with a disease that they're calling similar to foot-n-mouth disease. It sours the taste of wheat and lowers production slightly.

One of the down sides to modern agriculture is after long periods of selective breeding we have plants and animals that have little genetic diversity. This makes it less likely that they have the genetic resources to respond to a new disease or shift in climate.

For example a small population of humans who have a mutation that confers an immunity to the HIV virus. So, over time that mutation would end up becoming more common in our population as they get to live longer and have more kids than those being killed off by AIDS.

Unfortunately if all the members of the population are nearly clones of each other, they either all have resistance or none of them do.

So I'd predict that if we continue business-as-usual we will have to deal with an increasing number of plagues attacking our food supply.

I suppose that if people were planting small diverse gardens, even if our plants have lost their genetic diversity, at least diseases have further to travel than wandering through vast monoculture farms.

Though since genetic material can be shared among species, (weird idea, but true), so just being planted around other species might be able to restore genetic diversity.

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Comments {1}

diversity

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 27th, 2001 10:29 am (UTC)
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The human race seems to hate diversity in all forms, be it genetic diversity, social diversity, bio diversity etc etc etc.

I've never been able to understand it because I think that diversity is one of the most beautiful things on the planet.

I always worry about new technologies and how people will use them because it seems like the human race is always happy to leap in before they really understand what they are doing.

Here in the uk, it wasn't so long ago that we had a spate of abortions of foeteuses with so called "chromosonal abonormalities" such as XO chromosonal type. The mothers were told that their children would be severly retarded and would never be able to live a normal life and assuming that the doctors had a clue what they were talking about they aborted the foeteuses.
In fact the main noticable difference between XO women and any other women is that they are slightly shorter!

love

Moonglade

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