“[T]he movement to preserve heirloom varieties goes way beyond America’s renewed romance with tasty, locally grown food and countless varieties of tomatoes. It’s also a campaign to protect the world’s future food supply,” writes National Geographic’s Charles Siebert in this July 2011 article discussing the dangers of homogeneity when it comes to commercial agriculture and highlighting the work of modern seed banks. Estimating that “we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century,” Siebert claims that lack of biodiversity has left the current crop of high-yield vegetables and grains increasingly susceptible to diseases such as Ug99, “a virulent and fast-mutating strain” of Puccinia graminis, or wheat stem rust.

“Roughly 90 percent of the world’s wheat is defenseless against Ug99,” writes
Siebert, who warns that a significant humanitarian crisis is now inevitable,
especially in countries introduced to industrialized agriculture during the
green revolution. “Given the added challenges posed by climate change and
constantly mutating diseases like Ug99, it is becoming ever more urgent to
find ways to increase food yield without exacerbating the genetic anemia
coursing through industrialized agriculture’s ostensible abundance. The world
has become increasingly dependent upon technology-driven, one-size-fits-all
solutions to its problems. Yet the best hope for securing food’s future may
depend on our ability to preserve the locally cultivated foods of the past.”

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.