“Time is not on our side.”
So affirms a new book, “Coping with Climate Change” (available as a free PDF from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). The FAO says that crops, livestock and other critical plants and animals that can survive and thrive in the face of climate change will be urgently needed.
Because of that, genetic diversity is a hidden tool for coping with climate change, according to FAO deputy director-general, Maria Helena Semedo.
“In a warmer world with harsher, more variable weather, plants and animals raised for food will need to have the biological capacity to adapt more quickly than ever before,” she says. “Preventing further losses of agricultural genetic resources and diverting more attention to studying them and their potential will boost humankind’s ability to adapt to climate change.”
An adaptive approach should include introducing plant varieties and animal breeds that have not been previously raised, along with policies that promote their sustainable use, Semedo says.
Building knowledge of genetic resources, including the study and use of crops’ wild relatives is also key because these wild relatives could have the genetic traits that could help domestic crops better adapt to drought and other stressful climates.
“We need to strengthen the role of genetic resources and help farmers, fishers and foresters cope with climate change,” says FAO lead editor Linda Collette.
The FAO also supports the expansion of “genetic inventories” from the local or national level to be exchanged more intensely at the international level.
Climate change continues to be a controversial topic among farmers. What do you think? Continue the conversation on the AgWeb discussion boards.