The Italian Almanac

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vegetables

Italian News - August 18

A new 'atlas' is going to give recognition to Italian farmers who are defending traditional crops against the onslaught of genetically modified food and multinationals. The initiative has been launched by the Italian Farmer's Federation (CIA), which says these people are the bulwark of the globe's increasingly threatened spectrum of biodiversity.

The CIA has started a nationwide census of farmers who use rare, traditional seeds or breed livestock species that are in danger of extinction. When it is finished it will publish the results in the 'Atlas of the Lost Seed', which will map out where the rare crops are grown and the endangered animals bred.

The CIA says farmers are coming under increasing pressure from moves to homogenize the world's eating habits and forget about delicacies and crops that no longer fill the multinational bill. As a result the biodiversity that is at the heart of the world's different gastronomic cultures and delicate ecological balances is being undermined.

Furthermore, many crops have fallen out of favour because of their low yield but their nutritional qualities, ignored by the bang-for-your-buck crowd, are vastly superior to the newer varieties that are steadily supplanting them.