Food security risk if crop biodiversity lost: report

MILAN Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:39pm EDT

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MILAN (Reuters) - Future global food security may be at risk unless greater efforts are made to conserve and use the genetic diversity of cultivated crops and their wild relatives, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

The world's cereals output needs to rise by 1 billion metric tonnes a year by 2050 to feed a population that is expected to grow by about 40 percent by then from 2005, the FAO said in a report published on Tuesday, reaffirming its earlier forecasts.

Crop biodiversity is a strategic resource for sustainable development and eradication of hunger and it provides insurance against environmental calamities, the agency said in the report on the state of the world's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Fast-growing, high-yield new crop varieties resistant to heat, drought, salinity, pests and diseases -- crucial to ensure food security in the face of climate change -- can be developed using genetic information held in certain plants, the FAO said.

New seed varieties have accounted for 50 percent of the rise in crop yields in recent years with irrigation and fertilizers accounting for the rest of the growth, it said.

"There are thousands of crop wild relatives that still need to be collected, studied and documented because they hold genetic secrets that enable them to resist heat, droughts, salinity, floods and pests," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.

With an industrial focus on output of a few major crops, 75 percent of crop diversity was lost between 1900 and 2000 and up to 22 percent of the wild relatives of peanut, potato and beans will disappear by 2055, hit by a changing climate, the FAO said.

More funds are needed to preserve crop biodiversity and improve collection and use of its resources, it said.

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Comments (1)
panwarsk wrote:
The agricultural practices developed and adopted during the last fifty years are mainly responsible for the loss of genetic diversity.The scientists have introduced one form of natural selection i.e the’stabilizing selection’through the imposition of beneficial but artificial criteria like increased production,early maturity and high nutritive contents etc.The fast food culture,entry of multinational corporations in food market,imposition of artificial genetic criteria in the selection of seed and crop and the media advertisement for certain foods encouraged the consumption and production of selected variety of food through out the world.The FAO report is timely and should be taken by the agriculture scientists seriously through concerted efforts.As most of the ‘Genetic diversity hot spots’ are in the underdeveloped and developing world therefore it must be global initiative.In India several Farmers’ organizations like Kisan Jagriti Manch,Swabhimani Paksha ,Bij Bachao Andolan initiated the information campaign for the preservation and propogation of native seeds of important crops.

Oct 27, 2010 12:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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