Even though there are more than 7,000 known edible plant species, 80 percent of our calorie intake comes from just 12 plant species – eight grains and four tubers? And according to a Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, one-fourth of the world’s known plant species – some 60,000 to 100,000 species – are threatened with extinction.
Scientists like Paul Smith of Kew Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) in West Sussex, England, warn that this situation has left communities around the world are highly vulnerable to pests, diseases, and climate change.
The MSB is trying to address this problem through a campaign to bank seeds of rare and threatened plants. "With 120 partner institutions in more than 50 countries, MSB is the largest plant conservation project in the world. In 2009, the bank achieved its target of collecting seeds from 10 percent of the world’s plant species. Its next goal is to secure 25 percent by 2020," said an article in The Christian Science Monitor.
"Banking seeds of useful plants is the first step in finding varieties that can help confront pressing global problems – from water scarcity to deforestation to restoring endangered habitats," said the article, authored by reporter Janeen Madan.
Read more about this interesting project in the Monitor's article entitled Stockpiling Seeds Saves Plants for the Future