In his book, Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity, Dr. Cary Fowler discusses how control of domesticated plants threatens to shatter the world's food supply, as loss of genetic diversity sets the stage for widespread hunger. Fowler, one of the featured speakers at the 2010 Nobel conference, "Making Food Good," is the executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome. His career in the conservation of crop diversity spans more than 30 years. He is the author of several books and more than 75 articles on the subjects of plant diversity and genetic resources. In 1985 he and colleague Pat Mooney were awarded the Right Livelihood Award—the so-called "alternative Nobel Prize"—in a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament "for working to save the world's genetic plant heritage."
In a February 2009 article in The Guardian, Fowler writes about the importance of maintaining crop diversity as we move into an era of climate change.
Climate change and other pressures on our food supply intensify daily. It's down to us to conserve the diversity of crops. Unlike wild species, crops are domesticated. Their fitness, their evolution, is in our hands.
If genetic diversity is not conserved, he argues, we will have removed one of Darwin's essential pillars of evolution-variation-and will have rendered selection impotent. So, it is important to maintain samples of diverse seed stock, and that is the role of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which Fowler's Global Crop Diversity Trust maintains in cooperation with Norway.
We are excited to hear what Cary Fowler has to say about the connections between food and the health of planet and the people who inhabit it. We hope that you can join us to hear more at Nobel Conference 46 on October 5 & 6, 2010.