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Saving plants, saving ourselves

The future of the Earth and its inhabitants has never been more uncertain, but there
is still time for us to prevent further catastrophe. Plant scientists have a crucial role
to play in the preservation of plant biodiversity and crop genetic diversity, both vital
goals that will have a major impact on the success or failure of humanity’s attempts
to prevent ecological disaster. At the 2017 International Botanical Congress in
Shenzhen, China, a series of suggestions for the many important ways in which plant
scientists could contribute to a sustainable future were proposed, and were accepted
by the Delegates of the meeting. These included: conducting research in the context
of the changing world, promoting plant science and international collaboration, building
platforms for big data, generating a full inventory of plant species, protecting indigenous
knowledge, and engaging the power of the public. Here, I describe this
Shenzhen Declaration, the threats it aims to mitigate, and the key roles that plant
scientists must play for the future benefit of mankind.

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