Actually it wouldn’t be great at all. However, did you know that nine out of ten wheat crops around the globe are susceptible to a killer fungus that attacks wheat? It’s called the Puccinia rust fungus.
The fungus causes wheat, barley and rye stems, leaves and grains, causing them to rot and die just a few weeks after infection. Infections can lead up to 20% yield loss. The fungus regularly affects North America, Mexico and South America, and is a widespread seasonal disease in India.
Previous solutions to the problem relied on simple crossbreeding. Beginning in the 1940s, breeders began combining rust-sensitive commercial wheat with hardier rust-resistant strains. However, those solutions were only temporary as the rust always managed to find a way
around rust-resistant genes.
Scientists now use what they think is more effective method of thwarting rust. It’s wheat breeding, called pyramiding, in which multiple rust resistant genes are loaded onto a single wheat strain.
Not all of the wheat strains susceptible to rust will be affected in any given year. The possibility that large percentages of the world’s wheat crops could be destroyed by rust are very real, hence the intensity of the efforts to develop rust-resistant strains. However, if these efforts fail, or lose traction, look for non-wheat crops to fill the gap. That will mean large numbers of people going gluten-free for reasons having nothing to do with celiac disease or dietary fads.