Two of the greatest challenges we face today are eradicating poverty and sustaining the environment. A healthy and productive agriculture is fundamental in meeting these challenges. This requires that we make use of the vast diversity of crop varieties that have evolved over time through dynamic interaction between nature and mankind. Crop diversity provides farmers and breeders with the basic materials needed to improve and adapt their crops.
Link for video : “One seed at a time, protecting the future of food “ http://www.ted.com/talks/cary_fowler_one_seed_at_a_time_protecting_the_future_of_food.html
With the increasingly unpredictable and shifting climate, coupled with a world population estimated to exceed 9 billion by 2050, unprecedented demands will fall on agriculture. Conserving the vast range of crop varieties is the only guarantee that farmers and plant breeders will be able to improve and adapt their crops to meet these challenges - and provide food for the future.
"Our crops must produce more food, on the same amount of land, with less water, and more expensive energy," explained the trust's executive director, Cary Fowler. "There is no possible scenario in which we can continue to grow food we require without crop diversity."
This diversity is awe inspiring! With more than 200,000 varieties of wheat alone, diversity provides the innate, biological core of our capability to grow the food needed today, as well as meeting the challenges presented by population growth, changing climates and the constantly evolving pests and diseases. No country is self-sufficient in crop diversity – agriculture everywhere depends on it. Yet this diversity, contained and stored in seeds, is at risk of disappearing. We can do something...
Germ or Seed Banks around the world contain seeds that have been dried and frozen, and are ready to be used when needed…but these seed banks are vulnerable. And when the seeds are gone, they are gone forever. Quite frankly, if agriculture doesn’t adapt to climate change, then neither will we.
In 1996, when the Food & AgriculturalOrganization (FAO) conducted the first systematic assessment of the state of the world’s gene banks, it found that a large number were in a state of “rapid deterioration.” Some gene banks had already closed and others battled with maintaining their physical structures and equipment. Maybe most concerning was a large backlog of plant samples that needed to be regenerated (reproduced) before they lost their viability and thereby their usefulness.
Crops also vary in less obvious ways such as response to cold, heat or drought, or their ability to tolerate specific pests and diseases. Diversity in a crop can result from different growing conditions: a crop growing in poor soil is likely to be shorter than one growing in fertile soil. Genetic differences also play a part as some genes provide early maturity or resistance to disease. It is these heritable traits that are of particular interest as they are passed from generation to generation and together establish a crop’s general characteristics and future potential. By combining genes for different traits in desired combinations, plant breeders can develop new crop varieties to meet particular conditions
And there is only one organization working worldwide to solve this problem - the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
International Treaty crops include: breadfruit, asparagus, oat, beet, the cabbage family including broccoli and cauliflower, pigeon pea, chickpea, citrus, coconut, aroids, carrot, yams, finger millet, strawberry, sunflower, barley, sweet potato, grass pea, lentil, apple, cassava, banana/plantain, rice, pearl millet, beans, pea, rye, potato, eggplant, sorghum, triticale, wheat, cowpea, maize and more than 80 forage species from 30 different genera.
The collections can be in the form of seeds, cuttings, plant cells in test tubes, or trees and vines planted in a field. But they all contain the genetic diversity vital for breeding new crop varieties that sustain and improve food production. Crop diversity collections include the crucial raw material of agriculture, without which production would catastrophically decline.
Among these are the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (1996); and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (2001). Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the priorities for development as agreed by all members of the United Nations, will require that crop diversity be effectively conserved. The Trust directly contributes to three of the goals: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development.
If you would like to donate to The Global Crop Diversity Trust, go to their website athttps://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=3605
Global Crop Diversity Trust
A FOUNDATION FORFOOD SECURITYOne seed at a time, protecting the future of food
CaryFowler, ExecutiveDirector Global CropDiversity TrustFormer Professor andDirector of Research inthe Department forInternationalEnvironment &Development Studies atthe Norwegian Universityof Life Sciences, Dr.Fowler served as SeniorAdvisor to the DirectorGeneral of BioversityInternational. Herepresented theConsultative Group onInternational AgriculturalResearch (CGIAR) innegotiations on theInternational Treaty onPlant Genetic Resourcesfor Food and Agriculture.
The fight against hunger is one of thegreatest challenges facing theworld over the coming decades.Crop diversity is fundamental todefeating hunger and achievingfood security and sustainability…and sustainability is at risk!
Sustainability is based on a simpleprinciple: Everything that we need forour survival and well-being depends onour natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains theconditions where humans & nature canexist in harmony while fulfilling thesocial, economic and otherrequirements of present and futuregenerations.
But, the varieties of wheat, corn and ricewe grow today may not thrive in afuture threatened by climate change…
There are 35,000 to 40,000 varieties of beansalone!Each variety is valuable.
What is cropdiversity?Agriculture dependson relatively fewcrops - only about150 are cultivated toany substantialdegree worldwide -but, each comes in avast variety ofdistinctive formssuch asheight, flowercolor, branchingpattern, fruitingtime, seed size, orflavor.
Simply put, crop diversity is the biological base of allagriculture. Its use goes back to the origins offarming, and farmers and scientists must continuallydraw on this irreplaceable resource to ensureproductive harvests.
The Trust aims to ensure the conservation of thediversity within all crops of importance to foodsecurity. The Trust will give priority to the crops includedin the International Treaty on Plant GeneticResources for Food and Agriculture - the cropsthat have been selected as the most important forfood security and interdependence
Nearly every major US food or fiber crop isbattling pests and diseases against which ithas no resistance. For all of these crops, the difference betweendevastation and resilience may be found incrop diversity collections around the world. Crop gene banks store samples of crops andtheir thousands of varieties.
The Global Crop Diversity Trusts answer is to raise anendowment - the interest is enough to guarantee thesuccessful preservation (and the ready availability tothose who need it) - of the biological basis of allagriculture. This will ensure that the conservation of thismost crucial resource is placed forever on a firmfoundation.In addition to the Trusts action is an internationalagreement on the importance of this issue. Nations aroundthe world have adopted a number of internationalcovenants that recognize the need for conserving cropdiversity as well as confirming the important role ofcollections sustained in gene banks.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust wasfounded by the United Nations Food andAgriculture Organization (FAO) andBioversity International, acting on behalf ofthe top international research organizationsin this field (CGIAR).The Trust is currently hosted in Rome by FAO.Visit their websites:
Cary Fowler: One seed at a time, protecting the future of foodhttp://www.ted.com/talks/cary_fowler_one_seed_at_a_time_protecting_the_future_of_food.htmlEPA - What is sustainability? Retrieved 10/7/11http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/basicinfo.htmGlobal Crop Diversity Trust 2010 Annual Report, Retrieved 10/8/11http://issuu.com/croptrust/docs/annualreport2010?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Flight%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=trueGlobal Crop Diversity Trust – Crop Diversity, Retrieved 10/8/11http://www.croptrust.org/main/ldiversity.phpGrover, S. (2008) Global Crop Diversity Trust: The Search for Climate ProofFood, Treehugger-A Discovery Company, Retrieved 10/9/11http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/09/crop-diversity-climate-change.php