Harlan II: An International Symposium

BIODIVERSITY IN AGRICULTURE: Domestication, Evolution, & Sustainability 


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“Conserving and utilizing agricultural biodiversity is an integral part of the sustainable management of agricultural and natural ecosystems”

Organized by the UC Davis Departments of Animal Science, Human and Community Development, and Plant Sciences of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UC Genetic Resources Conservation Program, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources with guidance from an international advisory committee.
— Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the UC Davis Campus —

Agricultural biodiversity is now at the crux of several societal trends and concerns that have gradually surfaced over the last decades. These include an increasing interest in the origin of agriculture as a major milestone in the evolution of humans; concerns about the loss of biodiversity not only of crops and farm animals and their wild relatives, but also natural ecosystems in general; an awareness of the role of agricultural biodiversity in ecosystem function and agricultural sustainability; and the public’s interest in learning more about food, fiber, and feed production, as it relates to the quality and health of agricultural products and the environmental impact of agricultural production.

Our knowledge of the processes that affect agricultural biodiversity, in both plants and animals, has increased considerably in the recent years since an international symposium was held in Aleppo, Syria in May 1997 [“The Origins of Agriculture and the Domestication of Crop Plants in the Near East”, dedicated to Jack R. Harlan, 1917–1998, evolutionary biologist and plant explorer]:

To review this progress, assess the current status of agricultural biodiversity, and chart directions for its future, a new symposium, Harlan II, will be held in 2008. In addition to its international perspective, Harlan II will also examine the role and impact of agricultural biodiversity on California agriculture.

Agricultural biodiversity plays a crucial role in the sustainable production of food, fiber, and feed for humanity. Over the 10,000 years since the inception of agriculture, humans and their crops and farm animals have developed mutually beneficial relationships. The six billion people of this planet would not be able to feed and clothe themselves without the diversity of plants and animals that have been domesticated. In turn, our crops and farm animals could not survive without human assistance. Conserving and utilizing agricultural biodiversity is therefore an integral part of the sustainable management of agricultural and natural ecosystems.

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Last updated: 4/25/2008