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Seed store

Seed store

E770/1321

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Credit

PETER MENZEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PETER MENZEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Seed store. Farmer in a maize (Zea mays) seed store in Oaxaca State, Mexico. Farmers in southern Mexico are being encouraged to continue cultivating strains of local maize, rather than switching to commercial varieties. The local varieties act as genetic insurance. As pests adapt to attack the few commercial strains that are most widely used, pest resistance characteristics from the local strains can be bred into the commercial strains to protect them. Without this insurance the world could face a major food shortage in the future. Maize is the world's most important crop, and is a staple for hundreds of millions in the Americas, Africa and Europe.

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