Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

86 D The use of genetic and species diversity



Sustainable use of agrobiodiversity as a

primary policy goal

Agrobiodiversity is immensely important for the

nutritional security of future generations and for the

sustainability and stability of the Earth’s agroecosystems,

as well as providing the basic material for

innovations in breeding and biotechnology. This

must find an appropriate expression by conservation

and sustainable use becoming a priority goal in all

relevant areas of policy (Section I 1.2).The active use

of agrobiodiversity as a first option must stand at the

forefront of preservation and be applied in the most

diverse agrarian production possible. Particular

attention should be placed on the reliable, sustainable

funding of usage and conservation strategies.

Time delays or interruptions can lead to irreversible

losses if, for example, necessary regeneration measures

cannot be implemented and accessions lose

their ability to germinate, or if ecosystems that provide

the habitat for rare agrobiodiversity components

are destroyed. This irreversibility in the case of

loss distinguishes biological diversity fundamentally

from most other environmental problems and must

be given due consideration in the context of any measures

adopted. Early warning systems, such as

CGRFA (Commission on Genetic Resources for

Food and Agriculture) hopes to introduce for plant

genetic resources, are particularly important in this


The services of, as well as the major threat to,

diversity in the agrarian systems of the Earth must

form a central aspect of practical and academic training

courses. In the academic context, there is a particular

need for high-quality training in taxonomy,

agro-ecology and genetics.

of priority the collections in the diversity centres of

the various species should be completed. Drawing up

a red data book for endangered plant cultivars as a

basis for the creation of appropriate conservation

measures and funding of the same should be aimed

at. Preserving endangered domestic animal species

and breeds must form a further focus of efforts

towards preserving agrobiodiversity.

Since in many cases in-situ- and on-farm conservation

are the only means of preventing the total loss of

certain components of agrobiodiversity, these measures

must be supported. On the basis of their decentralized

distribution, of course, political will in making

this happen is crucial. In many cases, it is merely

necessary not to disturb the locally organized in-situand

on-farm conservation and use of agrobiodiversity.

In the past this often happened through restrictive

provisions governing the seed market or onesided

agricultural extension focussing on ‘modernization’.

In the context of the utilization of agrobiodiversity,

financing the secondary evaluation of genetic

resources or characterization of currently used agrobiodiversity

is crucial. In particular, the investigation

of resistances and specific quality features must be


In order to add valuable genes from genetic

resources to elite material and expand its genetic

basis, alongside basic evaluation work there is also a

need for comprehensive, publicly funded pre-breeding

(where possible in association with a gene bank).

Preserving agrobiodiversity

Worldwide the preservation of a considerable portion

of ex-situ collections is considered at risk.Thus, a

priority task is to safeguard and provide financial

support to existing collections. In particular, regular

regeneration measures must be made possible.

Collections that have been built up by various

non-governmental organizations (eg community

gene banks in developing countries, NGO collections

in industrialized and developing countries) should be

included in this support; these include gene banks

like the ones at the CGIAR research centres (Consultative

Group on International Agricultural

Research). For reasons of efficiency and cooperation,

the collections should be coordinated into one global

network. Existing collections must be augmented in

accordance with the precautionary principle. By way

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