On Wednesday researchers announced that they developed 30 varieties of “heat-beating” beans which were designed to supply protein for the world’s poor population while dealing with global warming.
Common beans and all their varieties are great providers of protein and vitamins all over the world. However, because of the global warming, the increasing temperatures affect up to 50% of their growing areas. High temperature is such a big threat that by 2050 people won’t have any beans left to e Earth fed CIAT (the International Center for Tropical Agriculture) in Valle de Cauca (Columbia) has found a solution to this: beans the can handle the rising temperatures which are at.
In order to keep the expected to occur in the following years.
Investigators have analyzed thousands of strains of beans kept in gene banks. In fact they were trying to find out beans that could grow in poor soils but they ended up discovering genes which can create “heat-beating” beans.
Scientists have developed a big number of bean varieties which were created by crossing different varieties of beans not by artificially transferring traits. The “heat-beating” bean was created by crossing a modern bean with a not so well-known Mexican relative bean. The result was a bean which can cope with the expected 3°C (5.4°F) rise in temperature which will most likely occur over the next century.
More than 1.000 varieties of beans have been tested and 30 of them proved to be able to withstand high temperature. Not only can they survive to increasing temperatures but they have the potential to prosper. This may lead to the expansion of the areas where beans can be cultivated.
This discovery may not mean much to Europe or the US, but it could make a difference between life and death in Latin America and Africa. More than 400 million people across the developing world rely on beans as a key food source. This is the reason why beans are called the “meat of the poor”.
Gene banks such as the one which helped the revolutionary discovery of these beans play an essential role in protecting biodiversity. Agricultural biodiversity is needed in order to create crop varieties with hidden traits which will enable them to face unexpected future problems.
Things are not as easy as they may seem, because gene banks are very expensive to maintain and they are vulnerable to civil wars and natural disasters. Moreover CIAT’s gene bank is 40 years older and in need of a costly upgrade ($25 million). But with so many people dying of malnutrition it does not seem a big price to pay since all this money would be used to fight hunger.
Image Source: Cebu Web Concepts
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