In July 1969, Erna Bennett, Genetic Conservation and Information
Specialist from the Crop Ecology and Genetic Resources Branch of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), carried out a mission
in Greece searching for and collecting primitive wheat varieties native to
the mountains and valleys of that country. These primitive wheat races are
one of the world's richest storehouses of the genetic characteristics that
plant breeders require. They will build desirable characteristics from crops
as old as agricultural man, like building blocks, into new high-yielding
varieties. But old races are being swamped by the spread of modern varieties,
and in certain areas - and in the case of certain crops - emergency measures
are necessary to collect these old races before they disappear completely.
FAO and other leading international crop improvement organizations are
increasingly concerned with the conservation of primitive crop races, in whose
amazing diversity hides the promise of better crops to come.
Miss Bennett making notes in her field book. All details of wheat samples
taken are noted in field books with numbered pages. Collected samples are
placed in cotton bags and numbered by detaching numbered strips from field