Alarming Assessment: Scientists Say 2/5th Of World’s Plants At Risk Of Extinction

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London: A research by more than 200 scientists across 42 countries has assessed that two-fifths of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction.

The State of the World’s Plants and Fungi study has revealed that new species are disappearing before they scientists can name and describe them.

A report by the UK-based Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says plants hold huge promise as medicines, fuels and foods, but opportunities are being lost to use plants and fungi to address global issues such as food security and climate change, says BBC News.

“We are living in an age of extinction. It’s a very worrying picture of risk and urgent need for action,” said director of science at Kew, Prof. Alexandre Antonelli.

“We’re losing the race against time because species are disappearing faster than we can find and name them. Many of them could hold important clues for solving some of the most pressing challenges of medicine and even perhaps of the emerging and current pandemics we are seeing today.”

According to the report, a tiny proportion of existing plant species are used as foods and biofuels.

Although over 7,000 edible plants have potential for future crops, only a handful are used to feed a growing world population.

Also, where there are around 2,500 plants that could provide energy for millions of people worldwide, only six crops — maize, sugarcane, soybean, palm oil, rapeseed and wheat — generate majority of biofuels.

“We’re currently utilising such a small proportion of the world’s plant and fungi, be it for food or medicines or for fuel, ignoring the potential treasure chest of wild species which we now have increasing knowledge of and the techniques to investigate for the good of humanity,” head of conservation science at Kew, Dr Colin Clubbe, told BBC News.

Scientists have estimated that extinction risk is much higher than previously thought. About 140,000, or 39.4% of vascular plants, are threatened with extinction, compared with 21% in 2016.

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