In July 1969, Erna Bennett, Genetic Conservation and InformationSpecialist from the Crop Ecology and Genetic Resources Branch of the Foodand Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), carried out amission in Greece searching for and collecting primitive wheat varietiesnative to the mountains and valleys of that country. These primitive wheatraces are one of the world's richest storehouses of the genetic characteristicsthat plant breeders require. They will build desirable characteristics fromcrops as old as agricultural man, like building blocks, into new highyieldingvarieties. But old races are being swamped by the spread of modernvarieties, and in certain areas - and in the case of certain crops -emergency measures are necessary to collect these old races be ore theydisappear completely. FAO and other leading international orop improvementorganizations are increasingly concerned with the conservation of primitivecrop races, in whose amazing diversity hides the promise of better cropsto come. Miss Bennett collects wheat samples from the growing crop. Sampling is done by randomly selecting 200 to 500 spikes from the growing crop or from gathered stacks. Details concerning the samples are hoted in field books. The Vardhousia Ori mountains can be seen in the background.