Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Two percent of the population produces all the food for everyone on Earth. When we look at agriculture as a whole and the world population, wheat is one of the species that contributes 20% of the calories and 20% of the protein to feed the world.

My name is Sylvie Cloutier. I’m a molecular geneticist, and I work with wheat. In wheat at the moment, we are seeing a shrinking of genetic diversity. About 100 or 150 years ago, we started doing genetic improvement. At first, farmers went into the fields and selected the plants that looked the best, and so on. In doing so, we often select for the things we want, but the things we want are the things we want today, now, in the environment. Sometimes we left behind genes that would be very useful, but that we no longer have within the species. So, my role is to go back to these wild species and to look for the genetic diversity that is thought to be lost and to bring it back within the wheat species to help improve it. I think Canadians should be very proud of our contribution to food security around the world.