Imagine how different our diets would be if any of
these food plants had become extinct before it was even discovered. The diverse forest gene-pool holds immense potential. New crops
are cultivated from forest species, and genetic material from wild plants can be used to improve harvests from existing crops.
A truck delivers large quantities of citrus fruits. Photo courtesy Naomi Woods.
|This point is well illustrated by the following case of the discovery of a new maize species. A blight that attacked commercial American corn crops destroyed nearly half of the harvest; soon after, a new species of maize was discovered in the Mexican forest. It was resistant to the blight, as well as other diseases, and could survive in places previously thought unsuitable for maize. If its genes were transferred into domestic corn plants, it could raise the world's maize production significantly. But this new species was not discovered until almost too late. This plant lived only in several hectares of mountain forest, which was rapidly being cleared. It was literally only days from extinction when it was found.|
[biodiversity] [loss of biodiversity] [deforestation]
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