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756. Towards Conservation of Crop Diversity

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756. Towards Conservation of Crop Diversity

Of the world's many crop genetic resources, it is estimated that only 5,500 species have been used by humans as food. However, with the modernisation of agriculture in the 20th century, a system of mass production and consumption based on the breeding of a small number of staple crops has been established. It is estimated that in recent years, 50% of calorie intake has come from rice, maize and wheat, and 75% from just 12 crops and 5 livestock species. Although this mass-production system has led to an increase in average per capita calorie intake, there has been a loss of crop species diversity worldwide, especially region-specific food and genetic resources.

On March 27, PNAS published the Special Feature: Harnessing Crop Diversity, with articles exploring the benefits, approaches and obstacles to diversity in agricultural systems.

The global food system is facing climate change, extreme weather events, land and water resource constraints, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, market instability, and and several other environmental and socio-economic crises. As global demand for food continues to rise, the pressure on the food system will only increase. The resilience and sustainability of the food system is highly dependent on crop diversity. Many breeders use crop diversity to develop new varieties and to help farmers spread risk. But for this to happen, genetic resources must be conserved and available.

The loss of crop genetic resource diversity is making our food system vulnerable. The environments in which major crops have traditionally thrived are becoming more unstable and unpredictable, threatening our future food security.

An article in this Special Feature addressed the growing need for research and breeding on crop genetic resources and the need for the international system for conserving the diversity of crop genetic resources to provide adequate information on crop genetic resources in a comprehensive and consistent manner, rather than simply providing the biological resources themselves, while ensuring equitable access and benefit sharing.

Hannes Dempewolf, Sarada Krishnan, and Luigi Guarino (2023) Our shared global responsibility: Safeguarding crop diversity for future generations. March 27, 2023. PNAS 120 (14) e2205768119

Susan R. McCouch and Loren H. Rieseberg (2023) Harnessing crop diversity, March 27, 2023. PNAS 120 (14) e2221410120 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas. 2221410120

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)