Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Biological Genomic Diversity in Food

 

Preventive Health Care

Numerous studies show that proper nutrition and intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and trace elements are essential to normal health. The human gastrointestinal tract harbors a universe of microbial life required to maintain normal bowel function.  It functions in symbiosis with the remainder of our body systems.  It is small wonder our systems are thrown out of balance by antibiotics.

As time evolves, A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply—but we must take steps to save them.

Like the animal world the plant world evolves and some species become endangered or extinct as a result of normal evolution or from the effects of herbicides, genetically modified crops and organisms.

The animal kingdom also evolves slowly as do human beings. Genetic changes are occurring in all species, some beneficial and others aversive or even fatal or species extinction.

Prevention has become important, our healthcare needs have rapidly accelerated our ability to finance our health system.

Differing populations may require unique approaches to food intake.

Today’s ecosystem offers a different crop from hundreds of years ago.

Much of this change may have an unmeasured effect on health and disease which has yet to be studied or understood.

The Food Ark and The Seed Savers Exchange

Six miles outside the town of Decorah, Iowa, an 890-acre stretch of rolling fields and woods called Heritage Farm is letting its crops go to seed. It seems counterintuitive, but then everything about this farm stands in stark contrast to the surrounding acres of neatly rowed corn and soybean fields that typify modern agriculture. Heritage Farm is devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds. It is home to the Seed Savers Exchange, one of the largest nongovernment-owned seed banks in the United States.

In 1975 Diane Ott Whealy was bequeathed the seedlings of two heirloom plant varieties that her great grandfather had brought to America from Bavaria in 1870: Grandpa Ott's morning glory and his German Pink tomato. Wanting to preserve such unique varieties, Diane and her husband, Kent, decided to establish a place where people could store and trade the seeds of their own past. The exchange now has more than 13,000 members and keeps in its walk-in coolers, freezers, and root cellars the seeds of many thousands of heirloom varieties. The farm grows a glorious profusion of select vegetables, herbs, and flowers around an old red barn that is covered in Grandpa Ott's stunningly deep purple morning glory blossoms.

There are many examples of the reduction in biological diversity fueled by the modification of native species into high yield, low disease plants and animals, to the exclusion of more natively robust crops.  The increased need for more food due to exploding human population fuels this negative effect of  ‘technology’.  It may also fuel new diseases or nutritionally deficient foods.

Food varieties extinction is happening all over the world—and it's happening fast. In the United States an estimated 90 percent of our historic fruit and vegetable varieties have vanished. Of the 7,000 apple varieties that were grown in the 1800s, fewer than a hundred remain. In the Philippines thousands of varieties of rice once thrived; now only up to a hundred are grown there. In China 90 percent of the wheat varieties cultivated just a century ago have disappeared. Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world's food varieties over the past century. As for the 8,000 known livestock breeds, 1,600 are endangered or already extinct.

This is not occurring in an isolated manner, and must have a secondary effect on all living organisms. 

Svalbard Global Seed Depository

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard global frøhvelv) is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometers' (810 mi) from the North Pole.[4] It was started by conservationist Cary Fowler in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),[5] and functions to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to provide insurance against the loss of seeds in gene banks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).[6]

Rather than considering this facility a “Doomsday Resource”, perhaps it will function to restore biological diversity when the time comes as our natural health deteriorates from deficiencies.

 

 

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