Food Diversity and Why it is Important

flowerWhy do we care about food diversity?  Why are we bothering to put all this energy and money into saving a tomato?  So what if the Ivan is no more? Why is this so important?

According to the international Development Research Center out of Canada here are some things to think about.

  1. Genetic Erosion is the key to Modern Agriculture as a small number of varieties designed for intensive farming are used.
  2. The worlds food supply relies on just 150 plant species with only 12 providing 3/4 of the worlds food.
  3. 90% of the needs of the world’s poorest people are provided by plants and approximately 1.4 billion resource poor farmers are using open pollinated seeds.
  4. Resource poor farmers are responsible for growing 20% of the world food.
  5. The majority of the resource poor farmers are women.

So, if you can some how ignore the above facts and then ignore that wheat, rice and maize provide more than 50% of the world food energy you are doing well at keeping your head in the sand.   If you grow only one variety of plants and then that variety is susceptible to disease or drought you are pretty much done.  However if you grow a few varieties you have the diversity to withstand the obstacles of changing climate, drastic weather and disease.  It does not make sense to put ourselves at risk of colossal failure just to make money for a giant seed company.

For more information on this topic check out Facts and Figures on Food and Biodiversity.