We have the world’s farmers to thank for the rich variety of food tastes and experiences. Over many millennia, they have developed, grown and guarded the diversity of domesticated plants and animals. Every crop we eat consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of different varieties, each with unique characteristics.
While these crops and livestock originated in specific places, many have spread throughout the world. We are all interdependent beneficiaries in this continuing story of the movement of people, plants, and animals – always changing, evolving, mixing and matching in new ways.
The astonishing range of species and varieties cultivated by the farmers of the past and the present underpins the resilience of our food supply: our nutrition, food security, wellbeing and health depend on it.
But our common global heritage of food biodiversity is at risk. Changing agricultural practices and increasing uniformity of our global food system is leading to rapid erosion of diversity from field to fork.
When we lose this diversity, we lose options for the future. The disappearance of one of the world’s most valuable natural resources leaves our food systems vulnerable to the challenges that lie ahead, be they the production of sufficient food for an increasing population, climate change, new pests and disease, or, indeed, all of the above.
Do we really want to lose the vast array of tastes, smells, colors and textures of food? The continued availability, affordability, and nutritional quality of these foods will be determined by the wise use of humankind’s diverse agricultural biodiversity.
We, as the signatories of this declaration, hold these truths to be self-evident:
- That no one should suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition;
- That the productivity, nutritional quality and affordability of food depends upon the wise use of crop and livestock diversity;
- That diversity in foods is essential to the enjoyment of eating;
- That we must safeguard the diversity of resources for future generations;
- That sharing of the benefits of this diversity and its associated knowledge is key.
The time to act is now. An ambitious and global effort to appreciate, safeguard, and share the world’s food diversity is required to change our current course. Because we are all interdependent on these resources, we resolve to act boldly and urgently across the world to save the diversity that underpins our food, forever.