Farming: Genetic erosion

The replacement of traditional and local crops and farm animals with more genetically uniform, modern varieties has caused the genetic erosion of crops and livestock species around the world.
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Over 56 varieties of potato are grown on Raices Andinas reserve, Laguna La Cocha, Colombia.
© Edward Parker / WWF-Canon

Lost genetic diversity

The widespread use of genetically uniform modern crop varieties has caused agricultural crops to lose about 75% of their genetic diversity in the last century.

Today, just 30 crops account for 90% of calories consumed by people, while 14 animal species account for 90% of all livestock production1.

This lost genetic diversity reduces the potential for modern crops to adapt to, or be bred for, changing conditions – and so directly threatens long-term food security.



1. UNEP (2007) Fourth Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development Section B: State-And-Trends of the Environment 1987–2007; Chapter 5: Biodiversity

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