2003, Rome -- Despite its crucial importance for the
survival of humanity, agricultural biodiversity is in ever
greater danger, FAO warned today.
the estimated 7 000 to 8 000 species that have been used in 10
000 years of agriculture, only 150 are cultivated today and no
more than four - wheat, maize, rice and potato - account for
more than 50 percent of our food calories from plants.
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources, adopted in 2001, aims to protect the conservation and
sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and
agriculture and the fair and equitable benefits from their use.
When signature closed on 4 November 2002,
77 States and the European Community had signed the Treaty. Some
33 States have currently ratified, accepted, approved or acceded
to the Treaty. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after it
is ratified by the 40th country.
attention to the importance of this Treaty, FAO organized a
side-event to its governing Conference
(29 November-10 December 2003) on Wednesday
3 December to present the Treaty and answer questions
about it, in preparation for its entry into force, probably in
A display of
photographs taken by prize-winning photographer Pablo Balbontín,
depicting traditional farming on three continents, will also be
Balbontín's work portrays
the hard work and the skills of these humble farmers from
different corners of the planet whose toils, for the most part
unseen and uncelebrated, continue to protect and conserve
The Treaty will promote
the rights of the very farmers who are the subject of
Balbontín's photographs, in recognition of the enormous
contribution they have made to conserving and developing plant
Pablo Balbontín signed
copies of his book The Custodians of
Biodiversity, which has English, Italian and Spanish
texts, during the event.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570