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Seeds that feed the world? Plant food resources are being depleted, warns FAO
Plant genetic resources form the basis for all our food from plants and are a precious resource that most of us take for granted. However, the diversity of these resources has been either diminishing or disappearing. This is according to a joint statement from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). The statement comes as concern over the rapid decline of biodiversity is intensifying with FAO previously flagging the issue in a report.
Biodiversity, that is vital for the sustainability of agriculture and the world’s food systems, is in rapid decline and presents a growing threat to food security and supply. In February, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that the first-ever global report on the state of biodiversity that underpins our food systems, livelihoods, health and the environment has been published by the FAO. It pointed to the fact that mainly plants, fish and mammals are decreasing in abundance.
Thousands of varieties of food plants have vanished over the last several decades. That means that the diverse sources of our food from plants are being depleted, while our numbers are increasing. This is an untenable situation, says the organization.
The PGRFA has been working around the world to stop the loss of agro biodiversity. Through this global pact, member countries work together to conserve and sustainably use the world’s precious plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
From November 11-16, 2019, at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, the Treaty’s governing body will hold its eighth session, bringing together delegates from 146 member nations, plus experts, observers, non-governmental organizations, scientists, farmers’ representatives and other international organizations.
Together, Governing Body delegates will be making a series of decisions for the future work and activities of the International Treaty. FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu will deliver an address at the opening ceremony. Last month, Dongyu noted that “green agriculture” is the key to sustainable development to ensure global access to nutritious food and protect crucial natural resources. “In order to feed 10 billion people in 2050, we need to establish good policies enabling us to produce a sufficient amount of nutritious food in a sustainable manner,” he said.
In May, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that the impending world population increase and its predicted impact on the loss of biodiversity will pose significant challenges to the global food industry, putting food security once again in the spotlight.