Intensive methods are the basis of modern agriculture, and agricultural products are becoming increasingly standardised. However an array of genetically diverse crop variations are necessary so that farmers can dip back into the gene pool should they need to breed a new variant that can withstand challenges, such as drought or disease.
On their own, however, these genetic resources are sometimes less productive. Taking a short-term view means they are in danger of being ignored - even though, according to the FAO, they are "essential for food security".
"Unsustainable fishery and forestry practices erode fish and forest genetic resources," said the organisation. "The genetic resources of all these sectors will be crucial in providing consumers with more and better quality food, and facing the huge challenge of climate change."
It is particularly vital that the threat be tackled now, since the world's population is expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2050/ Better managing of agricultural biodiversity is seen as key to bringing about sustainable increases in productivity, and conserving resources for the future.
A meeting of the FAO commission on Genetic Resources, taking place in Rome next week. Attending experts will discuss the state of animal, forest, and aquatic genetic resources. Their aim is to develop a long-term strategy for the international community's work on sustainable use of food and agriculture biodiversity.
The FAO's warning follows similar concerns raised last month by researchers from the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), who highlighted the need to bank seeds to combat the effects of climate change.
A study, presented at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Rome, Italy, found that many as 61 percent of the 51 wild peanut species analysed and 12 percent of the 108 wild potato species analysed could become extinct as the result of climate change in the next 50 years.
Moreover, the surviving species would be confined to smaller areas, which would further impair their capacity to survive.
"Our results would indicate that the survival of many species of crop wild relatives, not just wild potato, peanuts and cowpea, are likely to be seriously threatened even with the most conservative estimates regarding the magnitude of climate change," said lead author Andy Jarvis.
"There is an urgent need to collect and store the seeds of wild relatives in crop diversity collections before they disappear. At the moment, existing collections are conserving only a fraction of the diversity of wild species that are out there," he added.
The irony of the situation is that domesticated crops are likely to experience problems as a result of climate change - but just when they need to revert to the gene pool to find ways of adapting to overcome these, the wild varieties are likely to disappear.