Seed World

Elite Beans Can Beat the Heat

Responding to fears that bean production will take a big hit from global warming, scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have identified about 30 “elite” lines showing tolerance to temperatures 4 degrees Centigrade above the crop’s normal “comfort zone.”
According to computer modeling conducted by center climate experts in 2014, the heat-tolerant beans can counter most of the negative impacts of rising temperatures. Based on analysis using 19 global climate models, they concluded that, with current varieties, the area suited for bean production will have shrunk up to 50 percent by about 2050.
With heat-tolerant beans, the reduction will be only 5 percent, even assuming conservatively that the tolerant beans can handle a temperature rise of only 3 degrees.
“In some parts of Africa and Latin America, farmers adopting the heat beaters will actually be able to expand production on land where it’s normally too hot for beans,” says Andy Jarvis, a CGIAR climate change expert and director of CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area. “These lines represent a major breakthrough in buffering a vital protein source for the poor against the worst-case climate change scenario of a 4-degree temperature rise.
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