The future of food supplies is under "severe threat" because of the number of animal and plant species that are quickly disappearing, a United Nations report said Friday as the world grapples with how to feed a growing population.

People are depending on fewer species for food, said the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, leaving production systems susceptible to shocks caused by pests or disease, droughts and other extreme weather events due to climate change.

Although about 6,000 plant species can be used for food, less than 200 varieties are widely eaten, and only nine make up most of the world's total crop production, the FAO said in the first report of its kind to assess biodiversity in food systems.