Why do we still not have an early warning system for genetic erosion?

I’ve blogged about ProMED before a couple of times. It’s advertised as a “global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases & toxins.” But it is actually a bit more than that, as a recent piece on cassava brown streak disease revealed. There have recently been some stories in the Ugandan popular press about this disease. And one of the early ones made it to ProMED. That’s useful enough, but it also elicited a reply from Prof. Mark Laing of the School of Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He noted that “that there is hope on the horizon versus both cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak virus (CBSV)” and quoted a couple of breeding programmes that are having some success. That’s really how you want an early warning system to work. It should not only give warning of the problem, but also get people to discuss possible solutions. It doesn’t seem all that complicated to set up. Is it too much to hope for that there’ll be something along these lines for genetic erosion before I crawl away to my well-earned retirement?

3 Replies to “Why do we still not have an early warning system for genetic erosion?”

  1. PROMED is great. But I don’t think it has enough correspondents to be really useful for crop disease monitoring (and it does not include pests if they are not vectors for a disease). Perhaps because there are too few incentives to participate in PROMED.

    We need more programs like this one in Tanzania. This is cool. Just buy SIM cards and give people some minutes on their cell phones. You have to train them a little. Might not work. But bravo to the Great Lakes Cassava Research Initiative for trying.

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