Biodiversity in Crops

Posted on October 23, 2008 by ELCA World Hunger

I think I can fairly say that the loss of biodiversity in the world is something the media reports regularly. We hear about polar bears and how many other animals face extinction. We hear about how much rain forest is being cut down each day and what a loss that presents not only for the animals and plants that live there, but also the future of pharmaceutical discovery.

What I personally have heard less about is the loss of crop diversity. Here’s something I came across today on the Web site of the Global Crop Diversity Trust: “…of the 7100 varieties of apple cultivated in USA 100 years ago, 6800 have disappeared forever.”

We’re down to 300 varieties of apples here. That’s nearly a 96% drop! Of something we eat! They also say that about 165,000 crop varieties (all types of food) are currently endangered. It’s not boding well for food security in the world.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust site gives several reasons that crop diversity is dropping, and one of them is climate change. Rising temperatures and drought are not helpful to many crops, especially in places that already trend toward the hot and dry.

There are lots of ways that climate change affects hunger in the world. Killing off the things we eat is the most direct one I’ve considered.

-Nancy Michaelis
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