We Used To Have 307 Kinds Of Corn. Guess How Many Are Left?

  • metta

    Posts: 39090

    Apr 18, 2012 6:24 PM GMT
    We Used To Have 307 Kinds Of Corn. Guess How Many Are Left?


    http://www.upworthy.com/we-used-to-have-307-kinds-of-corn-guess-how-many-are-left?c=bl1
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    Apr 18, 2012 11:50 PM GMT
    This was in national geographic.. an agricultural disaster of epic proportions!!

    food-variety-tree-nugget.jpg
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    Apr 19, 2012 12:13 AM GMT
    The establishment of national markets for seed companies has a lot to do with the shrinking number of varieties.

    Also, farmers used to save their own seeds and develop their own varieties and hybrids. It would not be that hard to increase the number of kinds of most of these foods if there were a larger number of smaller scale farms catering to nearby consumers.

    It's not a great situation, but it's not like thousands of years worth of effort have been lost.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Apr 19, 2012 12:27 AM GMT
    One problem with this is a loss of resilience should the present popular strain be affected by disease or pestilence.
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    Apr 19, 2012 12:57 AM GMT
    From the agricultural capital of the world, yes, the decline is varieties is quite serious, as the possibility of a pestilence attacking those few remaining becomes quite serious, as it could decimate production of staple food items. (Although not a food crop, Dutch Elm Disease has decimated the elm trees of all America, for example.) There is a citrus problem right now in Southern California -- one of the orchards was put in quarantine from the same problem which in the last few years has been attacking the Florida trees. While diversity may not always be a good thing, in agriculture it certainly is, as new problems continually erupt. An additional, and quite political, issue is the production of hybridized, patented seeds owned by the big corporations which then attack the farmers who try to preserve their own seeds for planting the next year's crop, the way farmers for thousands of years have done. Or the genetically altered seeds which depend on expensive chemical applications from corporate sources to grow (eg. Roundup resistant produce).
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    Apr 19, 2012 1:17 AM GMT
    There are other countries with their own "heirloom" seed lines where entire underground vaults have the sole purpose of preserving thousands of varieties of seeds. The graph above is not representative of all the varieties of that particular type of vegetable / plant left on earth.

    Here is an interesting related article from NPR about a global seed vault in the arctic: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/04/147819839/the-ultimate-in-heirloom-wheat-arrives-at-seed-vault
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    Apr 19, 2012 1:22 AM GMT
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/04/147819839/the-ultimate-in-heirloom-wheat-arrives-at-seed-vault