America’s dwindling diversity

Here’s a graphic picture about the range of crop varieties available to farmers and growers in the United States. A range falling and falling between 1903 and 1983. Of course some of the now-extinct varieties will have been weak, but most of them probably would have been worth conserving. We don’t know what the future holds.

Since the 1980s, genetic modification (GM, genetic engineering) has gone mainstream. I don’t think that’s very good news for biodiversity.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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3 Responses to America’s dwindling diversity

  1. EqFe says:

    I don’t think that the story is quite this bad. There seems to be a real resurgence in planting and saving seeds from heritage varieties.This company,, http://www.rareseeds.com/ is a great favorite of Organic home gardens and small market gardeners, but I don’t think that it’s considered a “commercial seed house.”
    No doubt the bulk of commercial plantings are limited to a small number of varieties. For example, something like 95% of the US sugar beet crop is planted to a single roundup ready variety, but that doesn’t mean that 1000’s of small growers aren’t growing the varieties that their grandparents grew.
    The risk of course is that we could easily see a massive crop failure of key crops, especially the corn and soy that provide most of our food. It would probably take years to produce enough seeds to replant all our acreage.

  2. EqFe says:

    The rare breeds survival trusts and similar ideas are fascinating. Many of these breads, like the Vietnamese potbelly pig are small than usual and perfect for small homesteaders. The original “Jersey” dairy cow has become quite popular here.

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