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Articles by Cary Fowler

This is a guest post by Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and co-author (with Pat Mooney) of the classic book Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity.

Featured Article

Declarations of sovereignty and independence are not uncommon as rites of passage both for countries and teenagers. But what we typically see and what we experience is altogether different, both at home and in the world. Dependency and interdependency are the norm, whether we look at human relations, commerce, or biology. As the conservationist John Muir put it, everything is “hitched to everything else in the universe.” And perhaps this is as it must and should be. We dabble with danger when we act as if we are self-reliant and can “go it alone”, when in fact we are not and cannot. Our hubris tempts us to behave as if we are unhitched.

When it comes to the world’s food supply, dependency has five faces. Let’s look at them.


Most countries and cultures rely predominantly on foods from other regions and countries. The most important food crop in southern Africa is maize, a crop domesticated in the Americas. An FAO study quantified this degree of dependency on non-indigenous crops and found, for example, that Ghana and Italy were equal in their dietary reliance on crops originating elsewhere. Imagine Italian cuisine wit... Read more