Seed banks need investors
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CTA. 1996. Seed banks need investors. Spore 65. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47438
Delegates at a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in Leipzig agreed a 50-pageGlobal Plan of Action for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The delegatespromised...
Delegates at a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in Leipzig agreed a 50-page Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The delegates promised to devote more effort to conserving plants both in gene banks and on farms. The report, however, only refers to funding already present, as developed countries failed to commit any further funds to assist gene banks. According to the FAO, the world needs to invest US$3 billion over the next ten years to prevent the extinction of one million varieties of agricultural plants currently preserved in badly equipped and poorly funded gene banks. More than half of the world's 1,300 stores for rare strains of cereals, vegetables and fruits are perhaps incapable at present of performing the basic conservation role of a gene bank. Some 130 countries lack long-term storage facilities, while many established gene banks report delays and problems with seed regeneration as a result of shortages of staff, funding or both. If seeds are not regenerated and fresh seeds collected every ten years, then seeds can deteriorate. Any loss of genetic diversity now will reduce the options for combating plant diseases or improving crop yields in the future. While delegates to the conference may have been disappointed that they were unable to secure further funds they were generally relieved that the global plan had been agreed. However, it was felt that in order for gene banks to continue their work and prevent loss of the material already stored in the gene banks, further action must be taken immediately. Carl Fowler FAO Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, ITALY