Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's more important than gold...?

Two from Cryptogon:

Wheat Killing Fungus Now in Iran

March 18th, 2008

Via: UN:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.


Bread Lines in Egypt

March 17th, 2008

Via: BBC:

Egypt’s president has ordered the army to increase the production and distribution of bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages.

Rising prices and alleged corruption have sparked recent clashes at bakeries in poorer neighbourhoods, leading to several deaths.

Hosni Mubarak said eradicating bread queues was “imperative”.

The army and interior ministry control numerous bakeries normally used to supply bread for troops and police.

Mr Mubarak issued his order to the army at a meeting of cabinet ministers on Sunday that was called to address the growing crisis, his spokesman said.

“Bread should be provided to the citizens and the lines should disappear,” Suleiman Awwad quoted Mr Mubarak as saying.

The price of wheat has more than tripled on international markets since last summer.

Mr Mubarak has ordered the government to use some foreign reserves to buy additional wheat from the international market, the spokesman said.

Many of Egypt’s 70m population, about half of whom live below the poverty line, survive on subsidised bread.

Unsubsidised bread is 10-12 times more expensive than the subsidised five-piaster loafs (less that $0.01).

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