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plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

THE STATE OF DIVERSITY

THE STATE OF DIVERSITY 1.1 Introduction Chapter 1 of the first SoW report described the nature, extent and origin of genetic diversity between and within plant species, the interdependence among countries with respect to their need for access to resources from others and the value of this diversity, especially to small-scale farmers. This chapter updates the information provided in the first SoW report and introduces a number of new elements. It seeks to place PGRFA in the wider context of changing food production and consumption patterns and it summarizes what is known with regards to changes in the state of diversity in farmers’ fields, ex situ collections and protected and unprotected natural areas across the globe. It provides an updated review of the status of genetic vulnerability and of the interdependence among countries and regions in the conservation and use of PGRFA. Furthermore, new information is provided on indicators of genetic diversity and on assessment techniques. The chapter ends with a summary of major changes that have taken place since 1996, and a list of gaps and needs for the future. Since the first SoW report was published, certain trends have become more visible and new trends have emerged. Globalization has had a growing impact, food and energy prices have risen, organic foods have become increasingly popular as well as economically attractive and the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops has spread widely, although not without opposition. Investment in agricultural research, both in developed and developing countries has continued to show high economic rates of return, not least through the development and deployment of new crop varieties. Food security continues to be a worldwide concern and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future as the world population continues to expand, resources become scarcer and pressure mounts to develop productive land for alternative uses. Climate change is now widely considered to be unavoidable. All these factors can be expected to have had an effect on the state of diversity in farmers’ fields. The development of new varieties and cropping systems adapted to the new environmental and socioeconomic conditions will be crucial in order to limit yield losses in some regions and to take advantage of new opportunities in others (see Section 4.9.5). 1,2,3 In many areas of the world, crop yields have started to plateau or even decline as a result of environmental degradation, increasing water and energy shortages and a lack of targeted investment in research and infrastructure (see Chapter 8). 4 Facing these challenges will require an increased use of genetic diversity, resulting in an increasing demand for novel material from the world’s genebanks. 1.2 Diversity within and between plant species Only a few of the country reports contain data that allow a direct and quantitative comparison of changes in the status of diversity within and between crops in the period since 1996. Furthermore, where quantitative comparisons have been included, these mainly concern the number of released varieties or changes in crop acreages, both of which are only very indirect indicators of change in genetic diversity in farmers’ fields. However, it seems clear that onfarm management initiatives have expanded in the past decade as the scientific basis of such work has become better understood and appropriate methodologies developed and implemented. The linkages between those primarily concerned with on-farm management of PGRFA and those involved in ex situ conservation and use have also become stronger, although in many ways the two sectors remain compartmentalized. The continued growth of ex situ collections and the increased inclusion of threatened genetic diversity within them is a positive trend, although backlog in regeneration and over-duplication continue to be areas of concern. No quantitative data were provided in the country reports on the changing status of CWR, but several countries reported on specific measures that had been undertaken to promote their conservation. Finally, there is evidence that public awareness of the importance of crop diversity, especially of formerly neglected and underutilized species such as traditional vegetables and fruits, is growing both in developing and developed countries. 3

CHAPTER 1 1.2.1 Changes in the status of on-farm managed diversity Throughout most of the developed world, industrialized production now supplies the majority of food. Modern breeding has resulted in crop varieties that meet the requirements of high-input systems and strict market standards (although there is also limited breeding work aimed at low-input and organic agriculture). Strong consumer demand for cheap food of uniform and predictable quality has resulted in a focus on cost-efficient production methods. As a result, over the last decade multinational food companies have gained further influence and much of the food consumed in industrialized countries is now produced beyond their national borders. 5 This pattern of food production and consumption is also spreading to many developing countries, especially in South America and parts of Asia, 6 as incomes rise in those regions. However, in spite of this trend, a substantial portion of the food consumed in the developing world is still produced with few, if any, external chemical inputs and is sold locally. Such farming systems generally rely heavily on diverse crops and varieties and in many cases on a high level of genetic diversity within local varieties. This represents a traditional and widespread strategy to increase food security and reduce the risks that result from the vagaries of markets, weather, pests or diseases. Through the continuing shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture, much of the diversity that still exists within these traditional systems remains under threat. The maintenance of genetic diversity within local production systems also helps to conserve local knowledge and vice versa. With the disappearance of traditional lifestyles and languages across the globe, a large amount of knowledge about traditional crops and varieties is probably being lost and with it much of the value of the genetic resources themselves, justifying the need for greater attention to be paid to the on-farm management of PGRFA. The concept of agrobiodiversity reserves has gained currency in this context. These are protected areas whose objective is the conservation of cultivated diversity and its associated agricultural practices and knowledge systems. 4 THE SECOND REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S PGRFA Over the last decade, promoting and supporting the on-farm management of genetic resources, whether in farmers’ fields, home gardens, orchards or other cultivated areas of high diversity, has become firmly established as a key component of crop conservation strategies, (as methodologies and approaches have been scientifically documented and their effects monitored) see Chapter 2. Having said this, it is not possible from the information provided in the country reports to make definitive statements about overall trends in on-farm diversity since 1996. It seems clear that diversity in farmers’ fields has decreased for some crops in certain areas and countries and the threats are certainly getting stronger; but, on the other hand, other attempts to rigorously measure changes in crop genetic diversity in published literature have not yielded the expected evidence of erosion. This issue will be dealt with in more detail in Section 1.3. Participatory plant breeding (PPB) has become more widely adopted as an approach to the management of diversity on farm, with the objective of both developing improved cultivars and conserving adaptive and other traits of local importance. It provides a particularly effective linkage to both ex situ conservation and use. More information on the status of PPB is given in Section 4.6.2. 1.2.2 Changes in the status of diversity in ex situ collections As reported in Chapter 3, the total number of accessions conserved ex situ worldwide has increased by approximately 20 percent (1.4 million) since 1996, reaching 7.4 million. It is estimated, however, that less than 30 percent of this total are distinct accessions (1.9- 2.2 million). During the same period, new collecting accounted for at least 240 000 accessions and possibly considerably more (see Chapter 3). Major trends can be inferred by comparing the current state of diversity of a set of well-documented ex situ collections with that pertaining to the time when the first SoW report was produced. To that end, data on 12 collections held by the centres of the CGIAR and the World Vegetable Centre (former Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre, AVRDC) as well as 16 selected collections held

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    Chapter 4 The state of use CHAPTER

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    96 CHAPTER 4 very similar (approxim

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    98 CHAPTER 4 including rice, maize

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    CHAPTER 4 Different plants are rich

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    118 CHAPTER 4 16 Op cit. Endnote 8.

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    Chapter 5 The state of national pro

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    Chapter 7 Access to Plant Genetic R

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    LIST OF COUNTRIES THAT PROVIDED INF

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    LIST OF COUNTRIES THAT PROVIDED INF

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    Annex 2 Regional distribution of co

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    EUROPE 214 ANNEX 2 ASIA AND THE PAC

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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    MAJOR GERMPLASM COLLECTIONS BY CROP

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    THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES

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    THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES

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    THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES

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    Appendix 4 State of diversity of ma

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    APPENDIX 4 some country reports. 6

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    APPENDIX 4 option for perennial tax

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    APPENDIX 4 (wild one-grain wheat, T

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    APPENDIX 4 regeneration of existing

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    APPENDIX 4 An operational comprehen

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    APPENDIX 4 FIGURE A4.2 Global yield

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    APPENDIX 4 actively contribute to t

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    APPENDIX 4 Role of crop in sustaina

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    APPENDIX 4 and Myanmar (3 percent).

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    APPENDIX 4 progenitor is the wild s

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    appendiX 4 Ex situ conservation sta

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    APPENDIX 4 Documentation, character

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    APPENDIX 4 The two global chickpea

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    APPENDIX 4 in collections, absence

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    APPENDIX 4 FIGURE A4.5 Global yield

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    338 APPENDIX 4 are also conserved.

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    340 APPENDIX 4 WebPDF/Crop percent2

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    342 APPENDIX 4 90 Op cit. Endnote 2

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    344 APPENDIX 4 159 GCDT. 2007. Glob

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    346 APPENDIX 4 217 Op cit. Endnote

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    348 APPENDIX 4 291 Op cit. Endnote

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    350 APPENDIX 4 366 Ibid. Endnote 35

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    BAAFS Beijing Academy of Agricultur

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    CN Centre Néerlandais (Côte d’I

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    DTRUFC División of Tropical Resear

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    HRIGRU Horticultural Research Inter

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    INIA CARI Centro Regional de Invest

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    IVM Institute of Grape and Wine «M

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    NISM National Information Sharing M

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    REHOVOT Department of Field and Veg

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    SRI Sugar Crop Research Institute,

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    WCMC World Conservation Monitoring

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