The Secret Weapon Against Climate Change

The Secret Weapon Against Climate Change

“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.

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Spell Check

M. Byron
Minot, ND
1/24/2015 11:25 AM

  Diversifying agriculture is and will be a benefit to maintaining agricultural supply. But irresponsible genetic modification, such as neonics has shown that it can tremendously damage certain elements such as Bee populations, and that has a major impact on food supply. But it is far from being the secret weapon against climate change. It offers a wider range of variability to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but does not stop it or curtail it's advancement. It will do nothing to stop polar and glacial melt or reduce ocean acidification or temperature extremes or violent weather and droughts. It is merely a method of coping with the impacts Climate Change as it affects food supply. I think the Ag Web, farm Journal is caught up in self promotion and / or possibly doesn't understand the magnitude or the complexity of climate change.

Mona Miller
Branson, MO
1/22/2015 11:59 AM

  We need to take climate out of crop growing and grow indoors using aquaponics and using 98% less water and no GMO's, Pesticides


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