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The Importance of Crop Diversity

Esther Meduna Discusses the Need for Genetic Diversity of Food

— October 31, 2019 — Keynote Trends
Esther Meduna gave a keynote on the importance of the genetic diversity of food and the dangers of monocultures. Meduna studied botany in Zurich, and later joined to ProSpecieRara. She has extensive experience in botany, databases as well as didactics.

Meduna opens her keynote by stating that if humans still lived in hunter-gatherer societies than the earth would only be able to support 25 million people. She continues to say how humans reached a population of 7 billion people because of the ability to domesticate plants and animals.

Meduna continues to outline that as domestication happened the genetic diversity of food drastically increased. However, Meduna states that if monocultures are established, then a lack of genetic diversity can result in problems. Esther Meduna gives the example of the Irish potato famine, which resulted in the death of a million people and the displacement of more.

Meduna continues to outline the current issues of genetic diversity in food. As food companies get larger, genetic diversity decreases. According to Esther, over the past 150 years, humans have lost 75% of genetic diversity in food.

Esther closes her keynote by outlining how seed libraries can combat issues of reduced genetic diversity in food.