Livestock at risk

Another report from FA0 says that 20 percent of the world’s livestock breeds are at risk. And the culprits are those we’ve come to know and love; intensification, globalization, modernization. So what’s new? They may be planning to do something about it, that’s what. The report is part of a process leading up to the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources, to be hosted by the Government of Switzerland, in Interlaken in September 2007. Anyone out there want to keep an eye specifically on that topic?

Tidings of discomfort and sorrow

Frankincense — traditional gift at this time of the year — is the resin of a tree called Boswellia papryrifera native to the Horn of Africa. Alas, a scientific study in the Journal of Applied Ecology proves that tapping the tree for resin decreases the number of flowers and seeds the tree produces, thus “potentially” harming the regeneration of the frankincense woodlands. Non-tapped trees produce three times more seeds than tapped trees, and those seeds are five times more likely to germinate. The authors say that collectors should make fewer taps per tree and allow long rest periods with no tapping.

Seed relief manual — at last

FAO has just published the conclusions of a workshop on seed relief systems held in May 2003. Why note that, apart from to poke fun at the delay? Because one of the most important conclusions to emerge from the best studies of emergency seed relief is that local informal markets, often focussed on locally important varieties, are often the best sources of seed that will not interfere with local agricultural biodiversity.

Vitality herbs a big draw

Safed2 reports that “vitality herbs” were the biggest attraction at a recent National Forest Expo in Bhopal, India, and we do not shirk our duty to bring you edited highlights across the entire range of agricultural biodiversity. Will the Indians harvest their herbal Viagras sustainably? Hardly matters; one that caught my eye, because I recognized the Latin name of the common spiderplant of a thousand windowsills, is Chlorophytum borivilianum and it is already being domesticated and grown commercially.

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