Unfortunately, our planet is experiencing more and more abnormal temperatures and weather patterns. These abnormal conditions have consequences, especially in the agricultural industry. If that weren’t enough, the industry responsible for supplying our foods is confronted with other issues like overfarming and pesticide use. With all of these complications, it’s a wonder all our food isn’t at risk of becoming extinct. What crops are most in danger of going extinct?
Going Extinct: Vanilla
The vanilla you buy as an extract actually starts as a flowering plant: an orchid, to be exact. This orchid species is native to Central and South America. According to the International Union For the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, all 8 varieties of wild vanilla are either endangered or critically endangered.
Wild Cotton, Avocado, and Potato
Did you know that 92% of all wild cotton species are in danger of going extinct? In addition, more than half of all species of avocado are disappearing. On top of those, 23% of wild potato species are in danger too. Why should we be concerned with wild species disappearing if we have domesticated strains of these crops? The answer lies in diversity. Say we only had one species of potato, worldwide. If a disease comes along that can kill that kind of potato, we won’t have any potatoes. In fact, this scenario has occurred before; what we just described is an incredibly simplified version of what caused the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852.
Banana, Ginger, and Chili Pepper
Banana, ginger, and chili pepper appear on the IUCN red list as well, in danger of going extinct mostly due to the usage of pesticides and excessive agricultural production.
Wild Crops Vs. Domesticated Going Extinct
Why do scientists study wild crops? We use the wild cousins of our favorite agricultural staples to breed hardier and more diverse crops that can withstand disease and other factors that affect their growth. As temperatures continue to rise across the globe, we need stronger crops now more than ever to feed the growing human population.