Crop Germplasm Conservation and Developing Countries

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Science  08 Apr 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4593, pp. 163-169
DOI: 10.1126/science.220.4593.163


Loss of the genetic diversity of some of the world's crops has accelerated in recent decades, with many crops becoming increasingly susceptible to diseases, pests, and environmental stresses. A global network of gene banks has therefore been established to provide plant breeders with the genetic resources necessary for developing more resistant crops that will enable farmers to maintain high yields. Most of these gene banks now store the germplasm of only the major crops such as cereals, potatoes, and grain legumes. Cultivated varieties of these crops are conserved as well as wild species that might otherwise become extinct. Tropical cash crops such as bananas and coconuts are also important food crops in many Third World countries, and more effort needs to be made to conserve the germplasm of these crops as well as of other important plants such as plantation crops, medicinal herbs, and fruit and timber trees.