Kasey Dresser| March 25, 2019
This weeks segment looks at decreasing biodiversity in crops around the world.
The number of crops grown around the world has increased, yet crop biodiversity has declined.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Species richness, the number of unique species present in a defined area, often represents true biodiversity poorly. It discounts species evenness, which measures the relative proportion of each species’ population in the whole community.
Even though 156 crops are grown globally — up from the mid-20th century — overall biodiversity is low because just four types of crops cover about 50 percent of cropland. A new study from the University of Toronto found that corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans dominate industrial agriculture around the world despite differences in climate and culture.
This impacts the affordability and availability of culturally significant foods in certain areas and leaves the global food supply increasingly vulnerable to pests and diseases.
Increasing crop variety will make our food supply more resilient to pests and potentially reduce hunger.
For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Sara E. Mason.