Urgent call to collect and preserve crop biodiversity
Rachel Kyte, the World Bank Group vice president and special envoy for climate change, argues on the Scientific American blog that there has never before been a more urgent call to collect and preserve the biological make-up of our global food supply.
She’s right – crop diversity is humanity’s greatest resource to adapt our food supply to climate change.
Unfortunately, we’re losing this biodiversity – especially on our farms – at an alarming rate.
“Spain, for example, had 400 varieties of melon in 1970; today there are only 12. Since 1900, India has lost 90 percent of its rice varieties and the U.S. has lost 90 percent of its fruit and vegetable varieties,” Kyte writes.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) protects the largest collections of beans, cassava, and forages – global public goods. Many of these samples have already been used to develop improved crops that boost resistance to pests and disease, increase nutritional content, and intensify production for smallholder farmers. Crop breeders will increasingly rely on CIAT’s collection for their efforts to make crops resilient in the face of climate change.
“We will need these collections in the coming years. While increasing temperatures are expected to reduce crop yields and nutrition, more and more food will be demanded from a surging global population.”
In this light, CIAT seeks to strengthen our Genetic Resources Program and establish a new state-of-the-art genebank for global food security. Plans to construct a new home for CIAT’s invaluable collections are underway.
The innovative genebank will provide a unique facility to strengthen crop diversity conservation, take advantage of digital genetic information, and provide a platform for education and capacity strengthening. It will not only apply the best science but will also convey a strong public message about the vital importance of plant genetic resources for future efforts to feed the world.
Read the full blog by Rachel Kyte: Crop diversity is key to agricultural climate adaptation
Will the pursuit of food security weaken the resilience of global food systems
Global community committed to biodiversity and food security
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