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Climate Change Threatening to Wipe Out Wild Relatives of Key Crops

valuable source of genes that are necessary to boost the ability of cultivated crops to resist pests and tolerate drought, he said.

The reliance on wild relatives to improve their cultivated cousins on the farm is expected to intensify as climate change makes it too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry for many existing crop varieties to continue producing at their current levels, said Jarvis, an agricultural geographer working at two CGIAR-supported centres the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture and Bioversity International, with headquarters in Rome.

"The irony here is that plant breeders will be relying on wild relatives more than ever as they work to develop domesticated crops that can adapt to changing climate conditions. Yet because of climate change, we could end up losing a significant amount of these critical genetic resources at precisely the time they are most needed to maintain agricultural production, added Annie Lane, the coordinator of a global project on crop wild relatives led by Bioversity International.

The results of the study were announced on International Biodiversity Day, organized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).


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