Climate change threatens UK harvestUnited Kingdom
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Climate change could push up food prices by causing large-scale crop failures in Britain, the Met Office has warned.
Rising temperatures could mean events such as the drought in Russia this summer, which pushed up grain prices, hit countries like the UK.
But they said the worst effects of climate change could be limited by investment in better farming and the development of new drought resistant or heat tolerant crops. This could be done by aid money, breeding and new technologies like genetic modification (GM).
In a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists warned that rising temperatures would make crops mature more quickly, reducing their yield, while extreme temperatures could also significantly reduce yields.
More droughts would affect crops, while more intense monsoon rains could lead to flooding and crop damage, the researchers said.
Dr Andy Challinor from the University of Leeds looked at the effect of climate change on spring wheat in China.
"Due to the importance of international trade, crop failure is an issue that affects everyone on the planet, not just those in crop-growing regions.
"More extreme weather events are expected to occur in the coming years due to climate change and we have shown that these events are likely to lead to more crop failures.
"What we need to do now is think about the solutions. It is highly unlikely that we will find a single intervention that is a 'silver bullet' for protecting crops from failure."
An approach was needed which combined building up crops' tolerance to heat and water stress alongside investment in agriculture, the researchers suggested.
Dr Evan Fraser, co-author from the University of Leeds, said rich and poor countries must adapt.
"What is becoming clear is that we need to adopt a holistic approach: new crops for a changing climate and better farming practices that can only come about under more favourable socio-economic conditions," he said.
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