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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Up to 30,000 plant species are edible for humans

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First of Two Parts

Most of us have our own ideas about the food and plants that make up a large part of our diet. But how much of an impact do climate change, conflicts, health considerations, lifestyle trends and other modern-day issues have on the crops we grow now and those we might need in the future?

These are among the issues addressed in a new report, called The plants that feed the world, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

To date, we have relied on a handful of crops, such as wheat, corn and rice, for most of our caloric needs. Yet, there are more than 7,000 plant species, and perhaps up to 30,000 which are considered edible by humans.

With its Secretariat based at FAO, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was adopted in 2001 to ensure that the plant genetic resources most important to human diets were safeguarded and used equitably around the world.

Annex 1 of this legally binding agreement lists 64 of the key crops that make up our “food basket” and whose genetic resources are exchanged by gene banks through the International Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit-sharing

The treaty’s goal is to ensure that plant genetic resources are accessible by everyone, especially farmers in developing countries, so that we can all benefit from a diversity of crops that can meet our nutritional needs. (To be continued)

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