Posted  18 Apr, 2018 
In: Articles

Published March , 2018 on Chatelaine

By Danielle Groen


With 75 percent of crop diversity lost worldwide, it’s Rabinowicz mission at USC Canada to safeguard seeds and breed resilient new varieties.

The 20th century wasn’t kind to crop diversity: Thanks to the shift to large-scale farming that concentrated on a paltry selection of seeds, 90 percent of North American fruit and vegetable varieties have gone extinct, and 75 percent of crop diversity worldwide has been lost. At this rate, one-third of the seed varieties left will vanish by 2050.

That’s bad news for our taste buds, but it’s terrifying news for our changing climate. “We need crops that can withstand floods, drought and early frosts,” says Jane Rabinowicz, executive director at USC Canada. “The potato famine happened because two varieties of crop, grown on a huge scale, were devastated by a blight,” she says. “Diversity of crops, and diversity within crops, is basically an insurance policy.”

USC works with farmers across Canada and the world to safeguard seeds, promote biodiversity, lobby government, and breed resilient new varieties. In Québec, for example, farmers dismayed with the basic, boring, available corn crossed heritage varieties worked with USC to create four brand new kinds, all organic and developed especially for Québécois growing conditions.

Among its many initiatives is the robust grow-out program, which identifies seeds that are at risk of going extinct, Rabinowicz says, “so we can get them in the hands of different farmers who plant the seeds, observe them, experiment with them and work to bulk that variety up.” So far, more than 100 Canadian farmers are helping to put 300 unique seeds back into circulation.


More   Articles

Jul 17   |   Articles

Northern Organic Farmers Get Help

Jacob Marfo, manager and research co-ordinator with the Mackenzie Applied Research Association, looks at how his organic oat trials are doing in For

Read More

Jul 16   |   Articles

How can the Canadian Food Inspection Agency be more Transparent?

As part of maintaining trust in Canada's regulatory system for food, plants and animals, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) intends to refresh

Read More

Jul 16   |   Articles

How to Keep Your CSA or Market Veggies Fresh all Week

Originally published July 30, 2012 on Adventures in Local Food This year, my husband and I bought into a whole CSA share,  which gives us

Read More