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Global Food Crisis: National Geographic Takes A Look At The World's Dwindling Crop Supply (PHOTOS)

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In the July issue of National Geographic, writer Charles Siebert takes an in-depth look the world's impending food crisis -- in order to feed our growing population, we'll need to double food production. But as Siebert finds, the potential for a sustainable supply does exist. As his report states:

Food varieties extinction is happening all over the world -- and it's happening fast. In the United States an estimated 90 percent of our historic fruit and vegetable varieties have vanished. Of the 7,000 apple varieties that were grown in the 1800s, fewer than a hundred remain. In the Philippines thousands of varieties of rice once thrived; now only up to a hundred are grown there. In China 90 percent of the wheat varieties cultivated just a century ago have disappeared. Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world's food varieties over the past century. As for the 8,000 known livestock breeds, 1,600 are endangered or already extinct.

Why is this a problem? Because if disease or future climate change decimates one of the handful of plants and animals we've come to depend on to feed our growing planet, we might desperately need one of those varieties we've let go extinct.

Read the full article by Charles Siebert in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands June 28.

See the amazing full gallery by National Geographic's Jim Richardson here.

View images from Richardson's gallery below. All photos and captions are shown courtesy of National Geographic.