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Extinct crop wild relatives

You may have seen coverage of a recent paper in Nature in which Kew researchers quantified the rate of plant extinction over the last 250 or so years. The headline number is about 3 species have been going extinct per year, which is about 500 times the background rate. But I know that what you really want to know is how many of these are crop wild relatives. Well, my friends at CIAT worked their database magic, and came up with the following list of extinct species which are classified by at least one source as a crop wild relative:

Diplotaxis siettiana
Franklinia alatamaha
Helianthus praetermissus
Hutchinsia tasmanica
Ilex gardneriana
Isatis arnoldiana
Lepidium drummondii
Lepidium obtusatum
Mangifera casturi
Musa fitzalanii
Piper collinum
Potentilla multijuga
Rorippa coloradensis
Solanum bauerianum
Solanum cajamarquense
Solanum ruvu
Syzygium balfourii
Syzygium microphyllum
Syzygium palghatense

Which means about 1 per decade or thereabouts. But that, clearly, is just a minimum.

Perhaps I’ll try to map where these plants were last seen.

Free the grasspea

Is there a valid scientific reason for the grasspea (Lathyrus sativus) ban in India? We’ve blogged about this before. Mongabay is now on the case.

The claim that khesari dal can cause lathyrism is increasingly being challenged by researchers who feel that the ban was not based on systemic research over a prolonged period.

So what’s the problem?

Sources in the FSSAI1 say that the ban has helped people associated with the import of other pulses such as toor dal2. “In the wake of drop in production of popular pulses ensuing imports, traders lobby is benefitted. (Shortage of pulses in India, increases prices, benefitting traders.) They would never want the ban lifted,” said one official on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, research and breeding continue.

  1. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. []
  2. Pigeonpea, or Cajanus cajan. []

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