The Uniqueness of Agricultural Crops

Unlike genetic resources found in the natural world, agricultural crops are truly a human mediated form of biodiveristy. Through the process of domestication, human beings have for over 10,000 years been selecting and breeding plant species from the wild and creating new diversity adapted specifically for cultivation. As such, this form of biodiversity is entirely reliant on human management for its continuance. The success and sustainability of all countries are directly linked to their level of food security. At the global level, countries are interdependently reliant on continued access to agricultural crops to feed their population and many cases exportation of food products to support their economy. For instance, potatoes which originated in South America are now under cultivation in, and a staple crop of, Europe and North America. Similarly, barley and wheat were first domesticated in the Middle East, but are now grown in several regions globally. Many agricultural crop species actually perform better in other environments then the one in which were originally domesticated. Countries depend on continued access to genetic diversity to ensure their long term agricultural sustainability, food security, and ultimately economic prosperity. The scope of the ITPGRFA covers not just the 64 crops of agricultural significance to humanity, but also their wild relatives or progenitors from which they descended.