A great story about urban agriculture in – of all places – Los Angeles mentions corn, sunflowers, chayote, onions, tomatoes and alache, which I had to look up. But I would guess the diversity is staggering, at both species and variety levels. Imagine all those Latino families living the American dream asking their relatives back home for seeds…
I think WWF came up with a really powerful idea with their “climate witnesses.” These are ordinary people around the world who WWF has asked to act as spokespeople, a kind of warning system for climate change, and advocates for action. One is an old Kikuyu cattle-keeper, who spoke up at the recent climate change conference in Nairobi about the changes he has been experiencing. Makes me wonder if we in the agrobiodiversity community could link up with WWF and use this existing network to highlight specifically how climate change is affecting crops and crop wild relatives. Or do we perhaps need “genetic erosion witnesses” of our own?
The Society for Conservation Biology has aÂ catalogue of social sciences tools for conservation here. There are 270 items listed in the catalog, which you can search in various different ways. Quick searches for such keywords as “agriculture” and “crop” only generated a couple of hits, but I think most of the tools included (things like gender analysis and participatory rural assessment) will be particularly relevant to the conservation of agricultural biodiversity. There’s a more biologically-inclined catalog of tools here.
Isabel Vales, a potato expert at Oregon State University, is using both molecular and conventional methods to breed pest and disease resistance, and evaluating thousands of traditional and specialty potato lines, including weirdly coloured ones, for their potential under organic conditions.