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Plants play a fundamental role in the environment and the global economy. We must reconnect with the kingdom of plants
The massive extinction of flora and fauna is a reality. It is not a myth to divert attention from other events or a scientific plot. This was detailed by a UN report that shows that we would be in the middle of the sixth mass extinction and that endangers the existence of a million species .
However, the disappearance of species not only focuses on animals. Plants are also at serious risk and we know that without them there is no life. They are essential in any ecosystem and are also part of the economic system worldwide. That is why curing plant blindness is essential to prevent their extinction and better understand our relationship with these beings.
What is plant blindness?
Do you know how to distinguish between a poisonous plant and a medicinal plant? Do you know what a carrot-producing plant looks like? Are you able to distinguish between sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds? Probably the answer to these three questions is no and precisely this is plant blindness.
Not knowing or distinguishing plants is a problem of "blindness" that is a consequence of urbanization and the massive consumption of processed products. With the passage of time, the number of people working in the field has decreased and this has caused our knowledge in flora has diminished notoriously.
This term, according to EurekAlert, was coined 20 years ago by scientists who found that modern civilization is disconnected from the plant kingdom. The ignorance has reached such a point that we are not able to distinguish the plants that feed us. This has also led us to ignore the role they play in the environment and in our economic system.
An investigation by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT, in English) explains that plants are responsible for:
Purify the air.
Provide food, medicine and construction materials to humanity.
Some species are able to clean the soil.
Others, such as tomatoes, have been used to increase resistance to pests so that crops can grow better.
But the truth is that we do not recognize this role or its importance. In this regard, the co-author of the research, Colin Khoury, says that "the blindness of plants exists even for the food we eat every day, but in spite of blindness even in these food plants, they still represent an excellent medium and particularly powerful to connect people with plants, biodiversity, and conservation".
Khoury, in fact, undertook the task of investigating where the favorite ingredients of the pizza and hamburger came from and discovered that none of these foods originated in the United States. The discovery led the scientist to consider that food is one of the ways to eradicate blindness because knowing what we are consuming and where it comes from is attractive to many people. As in many of the problems we face today, the solution is education.
In addition to learning through food, there are three other alternatives to eliminate blindness and preserve plants.
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1. Seed banks: as the name implies, these centers are dedicated to storing seeds to give them the possibility of surviving these species in the long term. CIAT explains that the seeds are kept in cold conditions and that they are back-up copies of these species for the future.
2. Botanical Gardens: these plants care centers become essential institutions to protect and conserve plants, especially because there work professionals in taxonomy, horticulture, conservation, and education.
3. Education programs: learning and understanding are the answers to give an effective solution to a problem. In the case of the massive extinction of plants, our ignorance about them has led us to not fully understand the importance of them.
However, having access to information and education programs, the situation may change. Krishnan, the leader of the research team, says that "we need to rewrite the narratives of the plants to put the plants in front and at the center. For this, we need to create new approaches to attract the next generation to the plant sciences".
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "¿Qué es la ceguera de las plantas y cómo curarlas?"