The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has approved a precedent-setting, legally binding framework for protecting the genetic diversity of the world’s crops. The deal reached over the weekend marks the culmination of years of difficult negotiations between poor countries and environmentalists on the one hand, and developed nations and multinational corporations on the other. Under the framework, plant breeders will now have to pay for access to the public seed banks that store past and current crop varieties. With high-yield uniform crops squeezing out thousands of local varieties and plant species becoming extinct at unprecedented rates, scientists say the preservation of agricultural diversity and the creation of new crops that are resistant to disease, drought, and salinity are more critical than ever to ending world hunger.