Dwindling seed diversity

As part of an article entitled Food Ark, National Geographic Magazine produced this great graphic demonstrating how hybridization is reducing the varieties of food crops.  A 1983 survey showed that since 1903 there has been a huge loss, of with over 93% of the 66 varieties in the survey now extinct.  The article highlights efforts to preserve genetic diversity in the seed supply, and is well worth a look.

12 Responses to “Dwindling seed diversity”

  1. bangchik and kakdah Says:

    While searching for the best variety, farmers tend to forget the rest….

  2. pobept Says:

    Some lay loss of seed variety on farmers, well consumer, you are just as much at fault as farmers! farmers are business people, they (1) grow what consumers are buying!
    (2) what will make them the most profit {see (1)}
    (3) gardeners are at fault as well..planting/growing the latest wiz-bang new varieties and not planting and seed saving older varieties.

    Many varieties have faded away because they were not resistant to natural diseases and insects both native and those introduced by accident into U.S. crop lands.

    • Ali Says:

      It is a complicated issue. Who can blame farmers, whose income depends upon successful crops, for choosing varieties with improved disease resistance or better germination rates, etc.

      Home gardeners and others can make a difference by choosing to grow heirlooms and save seed. I do some of this, but my garden is small and that makes it hard to grow easily crossed crops, and to be honest, I too want to maximize the return on my investment by choosing crops with a high likelihood of success. Perhaps the best strategy is to do some of our own seed saving, and to support organizations such as Seed Savers Exchange.

    • Leigh Says:

      With respect, consumers can’t buy what’s only being offered. If they only sell one kind of tomato, how does that reflect what I want? Industrial food standards are partly to blame for this; produce must be of specific size, shape, and weight, the rest is waste so hybrids are developed to fit these requirements. Read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for some insight into this.

      Also, industrialized agriculture is trying to run farming like any other profit oriented business and with Monsanto pulling so much clout now, with the help of our government, diversity is being pushed out, even frowned on in favor of genetically modified crops.

  3. ravenmistfarm Says:

    It’s the backyard gardeners and small farmers who are in a position to preserve what we have. Check out Seed Saver’s Exchange. http://www.seedsavers.org

  4. Lisa and Robb Says:

    This past summer, I visited one of the locations of the National Clonal Geneplasm Repository — a living, growing seed bank…and a great use of tax dollars. It was thought-provoking and delicious (I was there for a mulberry and plum tasting), but somehow I never wrote about it.

    I think I was too riled up.

  5. Spencer Says:

    Very powerful graphic. I appreciate when graphics are simple yet powerful. This is so scary to me, as a seed consumer I need to buy better.

  6. Sure Signs of Spring « Raven Mist Farm Says:

    […] recently read an interesting post over at Henbogle  about our dwindling seed diversity.  We have already lost so much plant DNA.  Raven Mist is […]

  7. Jean Says:

    Wow! That is a very powerful graphic.

  8. Leigh Says:

    Actually I’m surprised and pleased at National Geographic for this. After their article on moving everybody to urban areas, I was wondering which side of the fence they were on.

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