The decades following the Second World War witnessed enormous advances in the security and efficiency of farmers in the developed countries. Scientific research establishments developed hybrid cereals that were high yielding, and the result of these and other advances were rapidly passed on to farmers. The problem with referring to sustainable development is that, like so many terms in the development lexicon, its very strength is its vagueness: sustainable development means different things to different people. The most important proximate causes of accelerated soil erosion are incorrect land use and bad land management, through land being worked in a way that exceeds its capacity. Throughout history fishing communities have been practising what the people now term ‘sustainability’. The principle that local people should participate more in the management and conservation of genetically-important resources represents a new and important departure, which must be encouraged.