Seed diversity is needed to the adaption of food systems to climate change

Global food systems will struggle to adapt to climate change unless urgent action is taken to increase seed diversity.

In a recent report, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), Gaia Foundation and African Biodiversity Network (ABN) highlight that the loss of 75% of the world’s agricultural diversity in recent decades means that crop varieties that could help farmers to adapt to new climate conditions may not be available when needed.

In ‘Seeds for Life: Scaling Up Agrobiodiversity’, the authors give a stark warning that without access to a wide gene pool of crops, farmers will be unable to spread their risk, or breed new varieties to adapt to changing weather patterns. The report emphasizes that urgent action must be taken to support farmers to revive their seed saving practices and knowledge, and to keep this diversity alive and accessible in fields today and for the future.

For thousands of years of agriculture, farmers have increased seed diversity and deepened their complex knowledge, to give them to tools to deal with the multiple challenges of farming. But the industrialization of farming in recent decades has meant that this seed and knowledge is rapidly disappearing. The resulting loss of germ plasm from which to breed and adapt new crops means that farmers and food systems are increasingly vulnerable in the face of climate change.

 “Seeds for Life” warns of the dangers of leaving a reduced agricultural gene pool for future generations – but it also shares inspiring stories of farmers around the world who are working to revive seed diversity. The report gives key recommendations for policy and practice to revive resilient food systems, so that future generations may also be able to farm and eat.

The report can be downloaded here: http://www.gaiafoundation.org/seeds-for-life-scaling-up-agrobiodiversity-new-report

 

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