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Major global analysis offers hope for saving the wild side of staple food crops
Date:7/22/2013

effects of climate change," says Andy Jarvis, leader of CIAT's Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area, which conducted the research. "Crop wild relatives are a potential treasure trove of useful characteristics that scientists can put to good use for making agriculture more resilient and improving the livelihoods of millions of people."

Jane Toll, Project Manager at the Global Crop Diversity Trust, adds, "This study has thrown up some surprises. Crop wild relatives in some areas in Australia, Europe and the USA need to be collected just as much as those in regions of Africa, Asia and South America. We want to ensure access to the wild genes that could boost the crops relied on by some of the world's poorest people. These wild genes have the potential to increase yields, pest resistance and tolerance to extreme temperatures."

Dr Ruth Eastwood, Crop Wild Relative Project Coordinator from Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, says, "Adapting agriculture to climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our time. Crop wild relatives are already being used to make improvements to our food crops right now and are extremely valuable economically as well, but they are underutilised. In a separate study by PwC, commissioned by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, it is estimated that the monetary value to agriculture of improved productivity or stress resistance traits that crop wild relatives offer is currently $42bn with the potential to be $120bn in the future."

  • Of the 29 priority crop gene pools targeted, the project focused on a set of 450 crop wild relatives

  • Gap analysis results show that 54% of the crop wild relatives on the target list are high priority for collection as they have not been collected before or existing collections do not adequately represent their full geographic distribution

  • The top five crops most at risk are eggplant (aubergine), potato, apple, sunflower and carrot, as a large number of their crop wild r
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Contact: Bronwyn Friedlander
pr@kew.org
44-020-833-25607
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Source:Eurekalert

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