Why people may be concerned about lack of genetic variety in our food crops.

Essay by lil_drummer_25 March 2004

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According to Jose' Esquinas-Alcazar, secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and land Agriculture, many of todays farmers are growing crops for mass markets and have started using modern seeds, which are all the same instead of the traditional ones. This is because modern seeds are more productive, however Mr Esquinas-Alcazar suggests that they are also more at risk because they are so uniform and have not adapted exactly to all the different environments in which they will end up growing in.

In his article Mr Esquinas-Alcazar states that half of the worlds food today comes from just four plant species and five animal species. If future generations do not have enough genetic variety they may not be able to keep mass production of crops going to feed the world. This is a very serious threat to the worlds population.

A good example of a disaster like this occurring from history is in the Irish potato famine in the 19th Century.

They relied on one variety of potato for the whole country and when a new disease suddenly arrived, it killed the whole crop within three years and the whole country starved. Two to three million people died and around seven million others were forced to emigrate to escape the famine.

This is why genetic variety is needed. If a disease kills off a variety of crop we can use another, if there is no other then the lack of genetic variety in our food crops can become a very serious problem.


Information found on www.fao.org article written by Jose' Esquinas-Alcazar 'entitled 'Genetic diversity:a gift from the past, a legacy for the future'.