237.130 A3 Research

FAO. Coping with climate change – the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Rome 2015. Web 19/05/2016. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3866e.pdf

Climate change will cause shifts in the distribution of land areas suitable for the cultivation of a wide range of crops. Studies indicate a general trend towards the loss of cropping areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, India and northern Australia, and gain in the northern United States of America, Canada and most of Europe. Although farmers have always adapted their cropping systems to adverse environmental conditions, the speed and complexity of climate change pose problems on an unprecedented scale. Without adaptation and mitigation, climate change is predicted to negatively affect the production of the world’s major crops in both tropical and temperate regions. There is evidence that climate change has already negatively affected wheat and maize yields in many regions. Climate change will also create problems for the livestock sector. Heat stress, for example, reduces animals’ appetites, production and fertility, and increases mortality rates. Feed supplies may be affected both locally (e.g. loss of grazing land because of drought) and globally (e.g. rising grain prices). Animals’ water requirements increase with temperature, but in many places climate change is likely to mean that water becomes scarcer and supplies become more unpredictable.
“Potential consequences include asynchrony between crop flowering and the presence of pollinators, and the spread of favourable conditions for invasive alien species, pests and parasites. As ecosystems change, the distribution and abundance of disease vectors are likely to be affected, with consequences for the epidemiology of many crop and livestock diseases.
It is vital that the genetic diversity needed to adapt agriculture and food production to future changes is not lost because of neglect in the present.
“In crop production, maintaining genetic diversity has long been an essential element of strategies to reduce the effects of crop diseases and abiotic stresses such as drought. While it is difficult to predict the precise effects that climate change will have on the distribution and severity of diseases and unfavourable climatic conditions, the availability of greater genetic diversity is likely to increase the resilience of crop production systems in the face of new climatic and disease challenges. Improving collections of crop wild relatives is important, as they are likely to have genetic traits that can be used in the development of well-adapted crops for use in climate change-affected production systems.”
It is likely that climate change will necessitate more international exchanges of genetic resources as countries seek to obtain well-adapted crops, livestock, trees and aquatic organisms. The prospect of greater interdependence in the use of genetic resources in the future underscores the importance of international cooperation in their management today and of ensuring that mechanisms are in place to allow fair and equitable – and ecologically appropriate – transfer of these resources internationally.”
“Climate change is predicted to increase the occurrence of extreme events such as floods, droughts and hurricanes, leading to greater reliance on seed relief. More-effective seed distribution networks that supply well-adapted seed need to be developed, both for post-disaster situations and to support longer-term adaptation of agricultural systems to climate change.”



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