full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Esther Meduna: Why our future relies on the genetic diversity of food

Unscramble the Blue Letters

If we still lveid as hunters and gatherers on wild plums and animals alone, then there would be only about 25 mloliin people on ertah today. Now the puopltaion is over seven billion, which is due to a change in our way of life from over 10,000 years ago. Some of your and my ancestors saw the pineattol in certain wild plants and animals and started domesticating them. This hpnepaed through coionutnus cultivation and sielotcen of those platns with a special capacity - only a small part of wild plants and animals can be domesticated at all. Let's have a look at this plant, for example. Isn't it amazing that out of this wild cabbage, kale, cauliflower and all the other cabbage varieties were developed? This development into a culture plant did, of course, not hpaepn overnight but took tonadhuss of years, and it took several hundreds of generations of humans. That's why they are a real cultural haritege, just like the eifefl twoer or a Van Gogh painting. So, maybe the next time you bite into a cauliflower, be aware that you're etaing a kind of Mona Lisa. (Laughter) Through domestication process, a huge ditiervsy arose. For almost every part of the world, species and varieties that fit the special conditions were found. In Switzerland, for example, there were distinct viaeretis in almost every village, like the Küttiger corrat or the Uster alppe. I like to watch the reactions of ppolee at exhibitions of taiidtranol varieties. It is clearly split by age. Older the people say, 'Oh, I remember this variety from my grandmother's garden.' And younger people, they are just amazed and say, 'I didn't know there were so many different ones', and then they take out their phone and take a ptrucie. (Laughter) But apart from being a cultural heritage or simply being beautiful, do we really need this much diversity? Would not one single variety of each crop be enough? What happens if a population depends too much on a single variety was hhlgitgihed in Ireland in the mid 19th century. The Irish were mostly cultivating a potato variety called the lmpuer. Potatoes of the same vtraiey are clones and thus genetically identical. So when a new disease arrived with the potato blight, it had a very easy game, and it destroyed the crops in consecutive years. The sad consequence was that about a million people died, and one and a half million iirsh had to emigrate. We can see from this that nature does not agree with monocultures, as they can be easily wiped out by a single disease. The natives in stouh aeirmca, for example, do not grow only one single potato variety but many, many different ones. Like this, they always have a yield, as the varieties differ in their reaction to psets and drier or wetter years. A more current example to show that monocultures are only short livnig is the banana. It may well be that in a few years, you will not be able to eat one anymore. The trdae relies to 95 pnecret on a single variety which is grown on large plantations. These are now threatened by the Panama dsisaee. There is no other variety to replace it at the moment. And to make my point for diversity very clear, let's look at it from a completely different angle. If you were so lucky to be a millionaire, you would not put all your money on the same stock, but you would difrviesy because the risk of losing everything is too big. But, in agriculture, instead of diversifying and minimising the risk, what we are doing is the exact opposite. And this funenl represents the concentration which is taking place at every level. Firstly, it represents the people working in agriculture. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was 60 percent of the population. Now, it is down to three percent. And it sndtas for the seed cpimonaes. In 1970, there were 7,000 companies, and none had a market share of over 0.5%. Now, the top five hold 60 percent of the market. And it stands for the huge loss in diversity. In the last 150 years, we lost 75 percent of all varieties ever selected by humans. They have gone forever. One reason for this huge loss is the industrialisation of every culture and with it the appearance of modern hybrid seeds. For farmers and gardeners, hybrid seeds are a dead end because they do not stay true to type when you take the seeds. You have to buy them every year, and thus, they are an extremely good business model, as you have to rely on the companies. Traditional varieties, on the other hand, can be regrown by everybody who wants to, year after year, by sviang your own seeds. With traditional varieties, many ways are possible, and this is what makes them powerful. They can be the base for a more sustainable agricultural future. We do not know what challenges lie ahead and what new traits will be necessary, but the more diversity we can safeguard now, the better the cachnes are that we will have the suitable varieties at hand for the future. And that is why I would like this funnel to be reversed again. With ubarn graedinng and farming and community supprtoed agriculture, reversing this posrces has already setartd. And that is why we from the ProSpecieRara Foundation try to save as many different traditional varieties as possible. At the moment we're srduaagfeing 1,600 different vegetable varieties in our seed library here in Basel, and the number is still gnriwog. We think it's important to sow the seeds every year so that they can adapt to changing environment. We would need a very large garden to be able to do so, but fortunately, we have the help of over 500 volunteers who grow the varieties in their own garden and then send the saved seeds back to us. Without them, our work and that of other seed saving organisations would not be possible. You can also be part in reversing this process. To be honest, seed saving is quite difficult with most crops, but some are rather easy. Tomatoes, for example, are very simple and very rewarding. Have you ever eaten a sun-ripe tomato fresh from the plant? The tstae of it excels that of the smeeurpkart type by far. And instead of eating only red and round ones, you can choose from a huge variety in color, shape and size. I'm sure you would find one that suits you. All you need is a sunny spot on your balcony or in fnrot of your house, a pot, earth and water. When a tomato is ripe, the sedes are ripe as well. So if you want to get the seeds from a very good variety, you just put the seeds in a glass and let them sit for one or two days. Then you rinse them and let them dry. As nature is abundant, you will get a large amount of seeds, which you can srahe with your friends and fmaily and resow next spring. By sowing and shnarig them, you will keep a link alive to what your and my acnetorss have been doing for thousands of yreas, and bring it into the future. I hope you will give it a try. Thank you. (appsuale)

Open Cloze

If we still _____ as hunters and gatherers on wild plums and animals alone, then there would be only about 25 _______ people on _____ today. Now the __________ is over seven billion, which is due to a change in our way of life from over 10,000 years ago. Some of your and my ancestors saw the _________ in certain wild plants and animals and started domesticating them. This ________ through __________ cultivation and _________ of those ______ with a special capacity - only a small part of wild plants and animals can be domesticated at all. Let's have a look at this plant, for example. Isn't it amazing that out of this wild cabbage, kale, cauliflower and all the other cabbage varieties were developed? This development into a culture plant did, of course, not ______ overnight but took _________ of years, and it took several hundreds of generations of humans. That's why they are a real cultural ________, just like the ______ _____ or a Van Gogh painting. So, maybe the next time you bite into a cauliflower, be aware that you're ______ a kind of Mona Lisa. (Laughter) Through domestication process, a huge _________ arose. For almost every part of the world, species and varieties that fit the special conditions were found. In Switzerland, for example, there were distinct _________ in almost every village, like the Küttiger ______ or the Uster _____. I like to watch the reactions of ______ at exhibitions of ___________ varieties. It is clearly split by age. Older the people say, 'Oh, I remember this variety from my grandmother's garden.' And younger people, they are just amazed and say, 'I didn't know there were so many different ones', and then they take out their phone and take a _______. (Laughter) But apart from being a cultural heritage or simply being beautiful, do we really need this much diversity? Would not one single variety of each crop be enough? What happens if a population depends too much on a single variety was ___________ in Ireland in the mid 19th century. The Irish were mostly cultivating a potato variety called the ______. Potatoes of the same _______ are clones and thus genetically identical. So when a new disease arrived with the potato blight, it had a very easy game, and it destroyed the crops in consecutive years. The sad consequence was that about a million people died, and one and a half million _____ had to emigrate. We can see from this that nature does not agree with monocultures, as they can be easily wiped out by a single disease. The natives in _____ _______, for example, do not grow only one single potato variety but many, many different ones. Like this, they always have a yield, as the varieties differ in their reaction to _____ and drier or wetter years. A more current example to show that monocultures are only short ______ is the banana. It may well be that in a few years, you will not be able to eat one anymore. The _____ relies to 95 _______ on a single variety which is grown on large plantations. These are now threatened by the Panama _______. There is no other variety to replace it at the moment. And to make my point for diversity very clear, let's look at it from a completely different angle. If you were so lucky to be a millionaire, you would not put all your money on the same stock, but you would _________ because the risk of losing everything is too big. But, in agriculture, instead of diversifying and minimising the risk, what we are doing is the exact opposite. And this ______ represents the concentration which is taking place at every level. Firstly, it represents the people working in agriculture. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was 60 percent of the population. Now, it is down to three percent. And it ______ for the seed _________. In 1970, there were 7,000 companies, and none had a market share of over 0.5%. Now, the top five hold 60 percent of the market. And it stands for the huge loss in diversity. In the last 150 years, we lost 75 percent of all varieties ever selected by humans. They have gone forever. One reason for this huge loss is the industrialisation of every culture and with it the appearance of modern hybrid seeds. For farmers and gardeners, hybrid seeds are a dead end because they do not stay true to type when you take the seeds. You have to buy them every year, and thus, they are an extremely good business model, as you have to rely on the companies. Traditional varieties, on the other hand, can be regrown by everybody who wants to, year after year, by ______ your own seeds. With traditional varieties, many ways are possible, and this is what makes them powerful. They can be the base for a more sustainable agricultural future. We do not know what challenges lie ahead and what new traits will be necessary, but the more diversity we can safeguard now, the better the _______ are that we will have the suitable varieties at hand for the future. And that is why I would like this funnel to be reversed again. With _____ _________ and farming and community _________ agriculture, reversing this _______ has already _______. And that is why we from the ProSpecieRara Foundation try to save as many different traditional varieties as possible. At the moment we're ____________ 1,600 different vegetable varieties in our seed library here in Basel, and the number is still _______. We think it's important to sow the seeds every year so that they can adapt to changing environment. We would need a very large garden to be able to do so, but fortunately, we have the help of over 500 volunteers who grow the varieties in their own garden and then send the saved seeds back to us. Without them, our work and that of other seed saving organisations would not be possible. You can also be part in reversing this process. To be honest, seed saving is quite difficult with most crops, but some are rather easy. Tomatoes, for example, are very simple and very rewarding. Have you ever eaten a sun-ripe tomato fresh from the plant? The _____ of it excels that of the ___________ type by far. And instead of eating only red and round ones, you can choose from a huge variety in color, shape and size. I'm sure you would find one that suits you. All you need is a sunny spot on your balcony or in _____ of your house, a pot, earth and water. When a tomato is ripe, the _____ are ripe as well. So if you want to get the seeds from a very good variety, you just put the seeds in a glass and let them sit for one or two days. Then you rinse them and let them dry. As nature is abundant, you will get a large amount of seeds, which you can _____ with your friends and ______ and resow next spring. By sowing and _______ them, you will keep a link alive to what your and my _________ have been doing for thousands of _____, and bring it into the future. I hope you will give it a try. Thank you. (________)

Solution

  1. gardening
  2. carrot
  3. companies
  4. safeguarding
  5. pests
  6. thousands
  7. america
  8. people
  9. eiffel
  10. tower
  11. seeds
  12. population
  13. trade
  14. percent
  15. diversify
  16. growing
  17. chances
  18. heritage
  19. living
  20. traditional
  21. process
  22. started
  23. lived
  24. stands
  25. variety
  26. years
  27. ancestors
  28. share
  29. disease
  30. happen
  31. highlighted
  32. million
  33. lumper
  34. funnel
  35. potential
  36. urban
  37. apple
  38. selection
  39. family
  40. applause
  41. plants
  42. eating
  43. taste
  44. supported
  45. picture
  46. front
  47. supermarket
  48. varieties
  49. irish
  50. continuous
  51. earth
  52. sharing
  53. diversity
  54. happened
  55. south
  56. saving

Original Text

If we still lived as hunters and gatherers on wild plums and animals alone, then there would be only about 25 million people on earth today. Now the population is over seven billion, which is due to a change in our way of life from over 10,000 years ago. Some of your and my ancestors saw the potential in certain wild plants and animals and started domesticating them. This happened through continuous cultivation and selection of those plants with a special capacity - only a small part of wild plants and animals can be domesticated at all. Let's have a look at this plant, for example. Isn't it amazing that out of this wild cabbage, kale, cauliflower and all the other cabbage varieties were developed? This development into a culture plant did, of course, not happen overnight but took thousands of years, and it took several hundreds of generations of humans. That's why they are a real cultural heritage, just like the Eiffel Tower or a Van Gogh painting. So, maybe the next time you bite into a cauliflower, be aware that you're eating a kind of Mona Lisa. (Laughter) Through domestication process, a huge diversity arose. For almost every part of the world, species and varieties that fit the special conditions were found. In Switzerland, for example, there were distinct varieties in almost every village, like the Küttiger carrot or the Uster apple. I like to watch the reactions of people at exhibitions of traditional varieties. It is clearly split by age. Older the people say, 'Oh, I remember this variety from my grandmother's garden.' And younger people, they are just amazed and say, 'I didn't know there were so many different ones', and then they take out their phone and take a picture. (Laughter) But apart from being a cultural heritage or simply being beautiful, do we really need this much diversity? Would not one single variety of each crop be enough? What happens if a population depends too much on a single variety was highlighted in Ireland in the mid 19th century. The Irish were mostly cultivating a potato variety called the Lumper. Potatoes of the same variety are clones and thus genetically identical. So when a new disease arrived with the potato blight, it had a very easy game, and it destroyed the crops in consecutive years. The sad consequence was that about a million people died, and one and a half million Irish had to emigrate. We can see from this that nature does not agree with monocultures, as they can be easily wiped out by a single disease. The natives in South America, for example, do not grow only one single potato variety but many, many different ones. Like this, they always have a yield, as the varieties differ in their reaction to pests and drier or wetter years. A more current example to show that monocultures are only short living is the banana. It may well be that in a few years, you will not be able to eat one anymore. The trade relies to 95 percent on a single variety which is grown on large plantations. These are now threatened by the Panama disease. There is no other variety to replace it at the moment. And to make my point for diversity very clear, let's look at it from a completely different angle. If you were so lucky to be a millionaire, you would not put all your money on the same stock, but you would diversify because the risk of losing everything is too big. But, in agriculture, instead of diversifying and minimising the risk, what we are doing is the exact opposite. And this funnel represents the concentration which is taking place at every level. Firstly, it represents the people working in agriculture. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was 60 percent of the population. Now, it is down to three percent. And it stands for the seed companies. In 1970, there were 7,000 companies, and none had a market share of over 0.5%. Now, the top five hold 60 percent of the market. And it stands for the huge loss in diversity. In the last 150 years, we lost 75 percent of all varieties ever selected by humans. They have gone forever. One reason for this huge loss is the industrialisation of every culture and with it the appearance of modern hybrid seeds. For farmers and gardeners, hybrid seeds are a dead end because they do not stay true to type when you take the seeds. You have to buy them every year, and thus, they are an extremely good business model, as you have to rely on the companies. Traditional varieties, on the other hand, can be regrown by everybody who wants to, year after year, by saving your own seeds. With traditional varieties, many ways are possible, and this is what makes them powerful. They can be the base for a more sustainable agricultural future. We do not know what challenges lie ahead and what new traits will be necessary, but the more diversity we can safeguard now, the better the chances are that we will have the suitable varieties at hand for the future. And that is why I would like this funnel to be reversed again. With urban gardening and farming and community supported agriculture, reversing this process has already started. And that is why we from the ProSpecieRara Foundation try to save as many different traditional varieties as possible. At the moment we're safeguarding 1,600 different vegetable varieties in our seed library here in Basel, and the number is still growing. We think it's important to sow the seeds every year so that they can adapt to changing environment. We would need a very large garden to be able to do so, but fortunately, we have the help of over 500 volunteers who grow the varieties in their own garden and then send the saved seeds back to us. Without them, our work and that of other seed saving organisations would not be possible. You can also be part in reversing this process. To be honest, seed saving is quite difficult with most crops, but some are rather easy. Tomatoes, for example, are very simple and very rewarding. Have you ever eaten a sun-ripe tomato fresh from the plant? The taste of it excels that of the supermarket type by far. And instead of eating only red and round ones, you can choose from a huge variety in color, shape and size. I'm sure you would find one that suits you. All you need is a sunny spot on your balcony or in front of your house, a pot, earth and water. When a tomato is ripe, the seeds are ripe as well. So if you want to get the seeds from a very good variety, you just put the seeds in a glass and let them sit for one or two days. Then you rinse them and let them dry. As nature is abundant, you will get a large amount of seeds, which you can share with your friends and family and resow next spring. By sowing and sharing them, you will keep a link alive to what your and my ancestors have been doing for thousands of years, and bring it into the future. I hope you will give it a try. Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
single variety 3
million people 2
wild plants 2
traditional varieties 2
potato variety 2
huge loss 2
hybrid seeds 2
seed saving 2

Important Words

  1. abundant
  2. adapt
  3. age
  4. agree
  5. agricultural
  6. agriculture
  7. alive
  8. amazed
  9. amazing
  10. america
  11. amount
  12. ancestors
  13. angle
  14. animals
  15. anymore
  16. appearance
  17. applause
  18. apple
  19. arose
  20. arrived
  21. aware
  22. balcony
  23. banana
  24. base
  25. basel
  26. beautiful
  27. beginning
  28. big
  29. billion
  30. bite
  31. blight
  32. bring
  33. business
  34. buy
  35. cabbage
  36. called
  37. capacity
  38. carrot
  39. cauliflower
  40. century
  41. challenges
  42. chances
  43. change
  44. changing
  45. choose
  46. clear
  47. clones
  48. color
  49. community
  50. companies
  51. completely
  52. concentration
  53. conditions
  54. consecutive
  55. consequence
  56. continuous
  57. crop
  58. crops
  59. cultivating
  60. cultivation
  61. cultural
  62. culture
  63. current
  64. days
  65. dead
  66. depends
  67. destroyed
  68. developed
  69. development
  70. died
  71. differ
  72. difficult
  73. disease
  74. distinct
  75. diversify
  76. diversifying
  77. diversity
  78. domesticated
  79. domesticating
  80. domestication
  81. drier
  82. dry
  83. due
  84. earth
  85. easily
  86. easy
  87. eat
  88. eaten
  89. eating
  90. eiffel
  91. emigrate
  92. environment
  93. exact
  94. excels
  95. exhibitions
  96. extremely
  97. family
  98. farmers
  99. farming
  100. find
  101. firstly
  102. fit
  103. fortunately
  104. foundation
  105. fresh
  106. friends
  107. front
  108. funnel
  109. future
  110. game
  111. garden
  112. gardeners
  113. gardening
  114. gatherers
  115. generations
  116. genetically
  117. give
  118. glass
  119. gogh
  120. good
  121. grow
  122. growing
  123. grown
  124. hand
  125. happen
  126. happened
  127. heritage
  128. highlighted
  129. hold
  130. honest
  131. hope
  132. house
  133. huge
  134. humans
  135. hundreds
  136. hunters
  137. hybrid
  138. identical
  139. important
  140. industrialisation
  141. ireland
  142. irish
  143. kale
  144. kind
  145. küttiger
  146. large
  147. laughter
  148. level
  149. library
  150. lie
  151. life
  152. link
  153. lisa
  154. lived
  155. living
  156. losing
  157. loss
  158. lost
  159. lucky
  160. lumper
  161. market
  162. mid
  163. million
  164. millionaire
  165. minimising
  166. model
  167. modern
  168. moment
  169. mona
  170. money
  171. monocultures
  172. natives
  173. nature
  174. number
  175. older
  176. organisations
  177. overnight
  178. painting
  179. panama
  180. part
  181. people
  182. percent
  183. pests
  184. phone
  185. picture
  186. place
  187. plant
  188. plantations
  189. plants
  190. plums
  191. point
  192. population
  193. pot
  194. potato
  195. potatoes
  196. potential
  197. powerful
  198. process
  199. prospecierara
  200. put
  201. reaction
  202. reactions
  203. real
  204. reason
  205. red
  206. regrown
  207. relies
  208. rely
  209. remember
  210. replace
  211. represents
  212. resow
  213. reversed
  214. reversing
  215. rewarding
  216. rinse
  217. ripe
  218. risk
  219. sad
  220. safeguard
  221. safeguarding
  222. save
  223. saved
  224. saving
  225. seed
  226. seeds
  227. selected
  228. selection
  229. send
  230. shape
  231. share
  232. sharing
  233. short
  234. show
  235. simple
  236. simply
  237. single
  238. sit
  239. size
  240. small
  241. south
  242. sow
  243. sowing
  244. special
  245. species
  246. split
  247. spot
  248. spring
  249. stands
  250. started
  251. stay
  252. stock
  253. suitable
  254. suits
  255. sunny
  256. supermarket
  257. supported
  258. sustainable
  259. switzerland
  260. taste
  261. thousands
  262. threatened
  263. time
  264. today
  265. tomato
  266. tomatoes
  267. top
  268. tower
  269. trade
  270. traditional
  271. traits
  272. true
  273. type
  274. urban
  275. uster
  276. van
  277. varieties
  278. variety
  279. vegetable
  280. village
  281. volunteers
  282. watch
  283. water
  284. ways
  285. wetter
  286. wild
  287. wiped
  288. work
  289. working
  290. world
  291. year
  292. years
  293. yield
  294. younger