Researchers from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), have described why plant blindness must be addressed to save plant biodiversity.
The term plant blindness was coined by researchers two decades ago to describe the concept that modern civilisation is at risk from its disconnect from the plant kingdom. According to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), one symptom of plant blindness is naming the last plant we saw.
Plant blindness in everyday foods
Colin Khoury, a co-author from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), found that 7,000 useful plants are at risk globally. Khoury added: “Plant blindness exists even for the food plants we eat every day. But despite the blindness even in these food plants, they still represent an excellent and particularly powerful medium to connect people to plants, biodiversity and conservation.”
Khoury studied the global origins of ingredients in popular foods such as pizza and hamburgers and fries called The not so American Hamburger study, and found that the American favourites did not have a single ingredient that originated in North America.
The threat to plant biodiversity
Tara Moreau, Associate Director of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden who co-authored the study, commented: “Unfortunately, we’re losing species faster than we can study and account for them. Plant extinction should not be an option, and public education is key.”
Saving plant biodiversity with awareness
According to the researchers, although wild conservation is a cornerstone for preserving plant biodiversity, botanic gardens and living plant seedbanks are also essential, with the world’s botanic gardens being home to one third of known plant species.
Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture and Center for Global Initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens and one of the co-authors of the study, said: “In an era confronted by many global problems such as climate change, habitat destruction, plant and animal extinctions, population explosion, hunger and poverty, we cannot afford to ignore plant blindness any longer.”