By Paul Salopek
Summer 2011 / Vol. 12 No. 2
- What are some practical reasons why crop biodiversity is important? What are some of the potential consequences of the loss of crop biodiversity, on both large and small scales?
- Watch the animation of the shifting orbits graphic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBBXLZWyXBQ). How has the landscape of seed companies changed? What are some consequences of these changes?
- Explore the article’s key question: who owns a seed? What are some of the pros and cons associated with the research limitations and intellectual property restrictions that are currently employed by large corporations? How do these restrictions impact basic research on new transgenic crop varieties?
- What are some of the tradeoffs of modifying crops to increase their yield? How might climate change affect the growing seed monopoly explored in this article?
- What are some of the potential challenges to relying on seed banks as a means of conserving crop diversity? What are potential factors that might lead to a resurgence of local, decentralized, and biodiverse seed husbandry?
Websites for Further Information
- USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture portal on Biotechnology and Genomics: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/biotech/biotech.cfm)
- Pew Charitable Trusts portal on Agriculture Biotechnology: http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_detail.aspx?id=442)
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN portal on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture: http://www.fao.org/biotech/)
- Bioversity International: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/
- Renewing America’s food traditions: http://www.environment.nau.edu/raft/
- Crop Choice: An Alternative News Source for American Farmers: http://www.cropchoice.com/
- Center for Food Safety: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/
Crop Diversity and Genetically Modified Crops in the News
- Crop Diversity: Eat it or lose it. (BBC, January 6, 2009): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7753267.stm
- Lack of crop diversity threatens food security: UN (The Independent, October 27, 2010): http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/lack-of-crop-diversity-threatens-food-security-un-2117628.html
- U.S. Approves Planting of Genetically Modified Alfalfa. (New York Times, January 27, 2011): http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/business/28alfalfa.html?_r=1
- The battle for diversity: Monsanto and farmers clash (The Atlantic, March 28, 2011): http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/03/the-battle-for-biodiversity-monsanto-and-farmers-clash/73117/
- The global food crisis: ABCD of food – how the multinationals dominate trade (The Guardian, June 2, 2011): http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jun/02/abcd-food-giants-dominate-trade
- Crop biodiversity
- Genetically modified plants
- Food security
- Seed vault
- Industrial agriculture
- Patented organisms