Russia could target doomsday supplies from Ukraine and spark a crisis for ‘generations’ | Science | New
Reports last week suggested that the Russian military had destroyed a major science center which contained critical equipment needed for doomsday scenarios. The National Plant Gene Bank of Ukraine, which was established in the 1990s as part of the Plant Genetic Resources of Ukraine (PGRU) project, was one of the largest such research centers in the world. . Fortunately, Ukrainian officials later confirmed that only a small agricultural test site had been destroyed and that all samples belonging to the gene bank are safely stored in locations across the country.
However, experts have warned that if some of the samples are lost due to the war in Ukraine, it could trigger a food crisis for generations to come.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Stefan Schmitz, executive director of Crop Trust, said the attack near Kharkiv “has brought to light the diversity of crops, the diversity of plant genetic resources in general.
“Why are gene banks important? Creating new cultures, raising new cultures from existing ones is something that man has been doing for 12,000 years.
However, despite several millennia of plant breeding, Schmitz warned that the industrialization of agriculture was reducing crop diversity.
He said: “The more the genetic diversity in the fields decreases, the more we depend on the diversity stored in genebanks.”
He also added that the rapidly changing climate is another major reason why it is important to preserve crop diversity.
He continued, “Now humanity really has to respond to these rapid temperature changes.
“Breeders around the world are now working on new varieties that will withstand harsher climates and be more resilient to changing circumstances.
“Farmers and researchers have to rely on the diversity and availability of genebanks.
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In order to enhance food security for countries that depend on Ukraine’s wheat supply to survive, Schitz noted that they need the gene samples at these research facilities to develop crops that can resist. to specific climatic conditions.
He then continued: “The war has triggered a short-term crisis at this time, caused by a disrupted supply chain, less supply from Ukraine and heavy dependence on many countries – this is a knock-on effect. short term.
“The long-term effect is that if genetic resources are lost forever, it would rob us of any future options for diversity and make us less equipped to deal with changing environments and future situations.
“Due to climate change, we have to think about securing our future in the next five to ten years.
“But we also have to think about our great-grandchildren, ensure food for future generations, and therefore ensure that the greatest diversity of cultures possible.
“Maybe there is a seed that we won’t need in the next ten years, but who knows, maybe we will need it in the next 100 years.”