The seeds of more than 370 wild crop species have been collected as part of a six-year Indiana Jones-style mission to widen the gene pool of staple crops and ensure future global food security in increasingly unpredictable growing conditions. A hundred scientists from 25 countries travelled by horse, canoe and even elephant to reach remote corners of the world in search of wild species of common agricultural crops such as rice, barley, beans and potatoes that billions of people rely on for basic nutrition. Domesticated crops are generally selected for their high yield and nutritional value but this means they have dangerously low genetic diversity. Their wild relatives – many of which are at risk of extinction – are sturdier because they have evolved to survive more challenging conditions. Without adaptation, the climate crisis could reduce agricultural production by up to 30% by 2050, according to a report produced by the Global Commission on Adaptation. Breeders want to create new crops that look and taste like domesticated varieties but that are more resilient to drought, flooding and temperature extremes. “These wild plants are related to a wide range of important crops,” said Hannes Dempewolf, a senior scientist at the Crop… Read full this story
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