Italy, famous for food with flavour has lost almost 6,000 varieties of fruit and vegetables over the past 100 years. A campaign has now begun, promoted by the Confederation of Italian agriculture, the Federation of Italian consumers , the Green political party and several other organisations interested in preserving the horticultural heritage of the country. The aim is to create a national list of local varieties of fruit and vegetables and the possibility for the seeds of these unusual plants to be exchanged between local growers. As the law currently stands, growers are not permitted to use seed that it is not on the European register of varieties, which means that locally-grown specialities are slowly dying out to be replaced by plants grown from hybrid seeds. Today in Italy 90 per cent of all cucumbers, watermelons, courgettes, melons and peppers are grown from hybrid seed and 80 per cent of apples come from only four cultivars. Anyone wishing to sign a petition to save Italian biodiversity should go to

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