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plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

THE STATE-OF-THE-ART:

THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES AND TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE IDENTIFICATION, CONSERVATION AND USE OF PGRFA with a multilateral system for executing the exchange of crop germplasm. National and international research funding bodies, in recognizing the need for collaboration for successful genomics projects have tailored some of their funding programmes to specifically underwrite collaborative efforts. The results have been public investments in sequencing centres, databases of genomic data, tools for analyses and public access, typically via the internet. The ability to sustain or increase such investments will depend on the status of the global and national economies. While there was a fall in world gross product in 2009, the first since World War II, prospects seem to be improving for a recovery in 2010. 50 The technical advancements in DNA fingerprinting may have relevance for intellectual property protection to the extent that it is possible to unambiguously identify cultivars. SNP fingerprinting will be precise and applicable in a high-throughput process; however, widespread application is still limited to crops with SNP databases. More widely used to date are fingerprinting platforms based on SSR markers or even AFLP and RAPD markers. 51 Concerns for the protection of inventors’ IPR in endeavors relating to PGRFA were initially restricted to the safeguarding of PBR. At the national levels, this safeguard was provided through different forms of legislations that vested IPR over new crop varieties with the developer, namely, the plant breeder. Efforts at harmonizing these national laws resulted in the 1961 International Convention and Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and its revised Acts of 1972, 1978 and 1991. This was followed by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which was signed in 1994. TRIPS had specific provisions for IPR protection relating to innovations in agricultural produce (crops and animals). Efforts at engendering IPR at both the national and international levels always had the stated aim of facilitating access to inventions in a fair and equitable manner. It is axiomatic that the net results of such well intentioned interventions have been further restrictions to access. Inventions in biotechnology, including those relating to PGRFA, have spawned such an unprecedented rash of patents as to amount to a virtual gridlock in efforts to access biotechnological innovations. Since the first SoW report, the profile of biotechnology in food and agriculture has continued to rise especially with the near ubiquity of GMO crops either in commercial production or in trial stages in many parts of the world. The patent protections for the crops and even the materials used in developing them, such as the sequences of the gene constructs, have been notoriously restrictive. For instance, it is such IPR issues that have impeded the widespread use of the genetically engineered high beta-carotene rice, the golden rice, as public good. Considering the moral imperatives of safeguarding food security, it is surprising that a lot more efforts have not been invested in breaking these gridlocks. The options for accessing proprietary biotechnologies by national research organizations are severely limited as the costs are usually prohibitive. The alternatives, normally requiring accessing the technologies without permission, would involve the exploitation of loopholes in patent and protected variety jurisdictions. International public research entities, notably the centers of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, have also been successful with negotiating royalty-free access. A pioneering regional effort, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, has also been able to broker access to IPR protected biotechnologies that impact on the ability of national programmes to harness the full potentials of their PGRFA. In general, the current efforts at accessing such technologies under IPR regimens have been piecemeal, expensive and clearly call for concerted international collaborations. The starting point will be education and capacity building in order to deal with the very complex issues involved. A3.9 Future perspectives The future will present multiple challenges to crop performance that can be met effectively by a combination of the development of resilient and hardy crop varieties (modifying crop genomes through plant breeding, preferably facilitated by efficient molecular approaches) and the introduction of suites 297

APPENDIX 3 of mitigating factors into agronomic management practices. In order to increase the reliability of predictions of crop performance based on molecular genetic information, new tools that enhance the ability for more precise linkage of molecular profiles (genotypes) to performance (phenotypes) will have to be readily accessible to the researcher. Gaps in knowledge abound that must also be addressed. For instance, the subtleties of phenotypic plasticity in the face of a changing environment and the layers of genetic redundancy that characterize biological systems remain largely uncharted. The concerted application of the myriad tools and procedures that are both available now and are under development holds great promise for deciphering these processes and thereby enhance the ability to more efficiently manage PGRFA in the face of the daunting challenges of an increasingly variable climate, increasing world populations and competing demands for diverting foodstuffs to non-traditional uses in fuel, animal feeds and fibre industries. The cumulative progress achieved to date in genomics and its ancillary scientific and technological endeavors has only provided the very beginning of understanding for the way in which a genotype confers a particular set of attributes to a living organism. Today, it is possible to dissect a complex phenotype and to determine where individual genes or, more correctly, QTL are physically located along the chromosomes. Information about DNA markers linked to QTL represents a powerful diagnostic tool that enables a breeder to select for specific introgressions of interest. As more genes of interest are cloned, identified or mapped and their contributions to complex biological systems are better understood, there will be many opportunities for creative “synthesis” of new varieties. It is possible that some of the opportunities will involve genetic engineering approaches, where new information about genes, gene regulation and plant responses to the environment may be used in innovative ways to fine-tune existing plant varieties so that they utilize resources more efficiently, provide greater nutritional value, or simply taste better. A continuing need will be that of extending molecular crop improvement strategies and capacities to under-studied and under-funded crops (the so 298 THE SECOND REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S PGRFA called orphan crops) but which ironically remain the bulwarks for the food security of a huge percentage of humankind. Achieving a widespread and routine application of novel biotechnologies to orphan crops, with the attendant potential for extensive positive impacts on human welfare, therefore represents an irresistible opportunity not only to those dedicated to public goods but to humanity in general. The current unacceptably high level of food insecurity need not remain so, nor get worse; the judicious management of PGRFA – while taking advantage of the novel tools and advancements - holds the key to reversing the trend. The immediate steps will involve the investment of resources in empirical studies with the aim of attaining an understanding of the biological processes that underpin the phenotypes of the crops themselves. 52 To date, the species sequenced or for which sequencing is underway, represent only about 13 plant families. There is a compelling need to make inroads into the balance of over 600 plant families for which genome sequences have not commenced as the benefits of whole genome sequence data are proving incalculable. Precisely, many orphan crop species and others need to become candidates for sequencing. None of these advances in technological innovations lessens the need for collections of PGR. In fact, to make the best use of the new tools, new strategies may be necessary to capture even greater genetic diversity and for maintaining that diversity during conservation and regeneration of samples. Genebanks remain vital and are in need of increased support. 53 Also, parallel progress in genome analysis of plant pests and pathogens should lead to greater insights into mechanisms of disease and pest resistance. Global climate change and variations will present some predictable challenges to agricultural production systems (for example, higher temperatures, drought, flood, stronger winds and increased and new pests and pathogens). To address those challenges, research should make full use of available molecular tools and strategies not only to improve productivity but also to reduce impact on the environment, increase carbon sequestration and substitute for fossil fuels. 54

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    The Second Report on THE STATE OF T

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    Executive summary �his report des

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    documentation and characterization

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    THE STATE OF EX SITU CONSERVATION 1

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    98 CHAPTER 4 including rice, maize

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    118 CHAPTER 4 16 Op cit. Endnote 8.

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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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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    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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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    MAJOR GERMPLASM COLLECTIONS BY CROP

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    MAJOR GERMPLASM COLLECTIONS BY CROP

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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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