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Half of the world's coffee could be gone by 2050, scientists say

This segment originally aired Dec. 7, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Scientists predict that half of the world’s coffee could be gone by 2050, wiped out, in part, by a fungus known as coffee leaf rust.

“It was very upsetting because we expected to have a good harvest last year,” said Guadalupe Avendaño, a coffee farmer in Veracruz, Mexico, for more than 20 years. “But it was the worst.”

Coffee rust kills plants by depriving them of nutrients. And in 2014, the disease destroyed up to 70 percent of harvests in Mexico and Central America. It’s been a problem for coffee growers around the world for centuries, but unpredictable rainy seasons caused by climate change have intensified the spread of the fungus and affected farmers of varying means.

“You used to make a living from coffee, but not anymore,” Avendaño said.

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