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Securing the future of our food

March 3, 2010

Those of us interested in agricultural biodiversity might like to read the recent Food Security special issue in Science (12 February). You can check it out online, I think most of the special issue articles are freely available for download. The folks over at Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog provide a nice analysis of one of the review papers which is worth checking out. A few things concerned me about the special issue. I felt that a number of individuals and organisations who could have contributed constructively were not engaged, including those closer to the action. Secondly, some of the proposed fixes and solutions are a bit dubious. A couple of the articles make very general references to the role of the world’s plant genetic resources in underpinning food security but make many assumptions that these valuable resources will continue to be available through the world’s genebanks and in the case of crop relatives, in the wild. These articles, and the entire special issue in fact,  fail to acknowledge that the future of these globally important wild resources themselves are severely insecure in both the world’s genebanks and also in the wild with the likelihood that many could go extinct by as early as 2050. Seems like a missed opportunity to make a case for wild relatives and agricultural biodiversity in general.

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