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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 as a result of the incorporation of computers into data capture devices, improvements in data and database management software and the expansion of local computer networks and the Internet. These improvements have also resulted in rapid advances in the ability to undertake sophisticated processing and analysis of large complex datasets as, for example, in the emergence and application of the science of bioinformatics for molecular data. 1.3 Genetic vulnerability and erosion As defined in the first SoW report, genetic vulnerability is the “condition that results when a widely planted crop is uniformly susceptible to a pest, pathogen or environmental hazard as a result of its genetic constitution, thereby creating a potential for widespread crop losses”. Genetic erosion, on the other hand, was defined as “the loss of individual genes and the loss of particular combinations of genes (i.e. of gene complexes) such as those maintained in locally adapted landraces. The term ‘genetic erosion’ is sometimes used in a narrow sense, i.e. the loss of genes or alleles, as well as more broadly, referring to the loss of varieties”. Thus, while genetic erosion does not necessarily entail the extinction of a species or subpopulation, it does signify a loss of variability and thus a loss of flexibility. 26 These definitions take into account both sides of the diversity coin, that is richness and evenness, the first relating to the total number of alleles present and the second to the relative frequency of different alleles. While there has been much discussion of these concepts since the first SoW report, these definitions have not changed. 1.3.1 Trends in genetic vulnerability and erosion While few country reports give concrete examples, about 60 report that genetic vulnerability is significant and many mention the need for a greater deployment of genetic diversity in order to counter the potential threat to agricultural production. In Benin, for example, there was concern that the current agricultural system is dominated by monocultures, in particular of yam and commercial crops. China reported cases in which rice and maize varieties have become more uniform and thus more genetically vulnerable. Ecuador reports that endemic plants are particularly vulnerable due to their restricted distribution. In the Galapagos Islands, at least 144 species of native vascular plants are considered rare; 69 of these are endemic to the Archipelago, including 38 species which are restricted to a single island. In Lebanon, the decrease in national production of almonds has been attributed to the genetic vulnerability of the few varieties grown. The largest global example of the impact of genetic vulnerability that has occurred since the first SoW report was published is the outbreak and continued spread of the Ug99 race of stem rust, to which the large majority of existing wheat varieties is susceptible. On the other hand, some countries reported on successful measures that had been put in place to counter genetic vulnerability. Cuba, for example, reported that the introduction of a wide range of varieties and the increased use of diversified production systems has reduced genetic vulnerability. Thailand promotes the use of greater diversity in breeding programmes and released varieties. In the case of genetic erosion, while the country reports mention a substantial number of causes, in general these were the same as those identified in 1996. Major causes included: replacement of local varieties, land clearing, overexploitation, population pressures, environmental degradation, changing agricultural systems, overgrazing, inappropriate legislation and policy, as well as pests, diseases and weeds. From an analysis of country reports, it also appears that genetic erosion may be greatest in the case of cereals, followed by vegetables, fruits and nuts and food legumes (see Table 1.3). This may, however, be an artifact of the greater attention that is generally paid to field crops. The following examples of genetic erosion cited in five of the country reports give a flavour of the diversity of situations and may serve to illustrate the overall situation. It should be noted, however, that the list is not intended to be complete and as the information contained in the country reports was not standardized, it is not possible to make cross-country or cross-crop 15

CHAPTER 1 comparisons, or use the information as a baseline for future monitoring. Madagascar reported that the rice variety Rojomena, appreciated for its taste, is now rare whereas the Botojingo and Java varieties of the northeastern coastal area have disappeared. The cassava variety Pelamainty de Taolagnaro and certain varieties of bean have disappeared from most producing areas and in the case of coffee, 100 clones out of 256, as well as five species (Coffea campaniensis, C. arnoldiana, C. rostandii, C. tricalysioides and C. humbertii) have disappeared from collections in the last 20 years. Wild yam species are also considered likely to disappear soon. Costa Rica reports that Phaseolus spp., including P. vulgaris, are threatened by serious genetic erosion; the same occurs to the indigenous crop Sechium tacaco and four related species: S. pittieri, S. talamancense, S. venosum and S. vellosum. In India, a large number of rice varieties in Orissa, some rice varieties with medicinal properties in Kerala and a range of millet species in Tamil Nadu, are no longer cultivated in their native habitats. 27 Yemen reports that varieties of finger millet (Eleusine coracana) and Eragrostis tef as well as oil rape (Brassica napus), which used to be among the most important traditional crop varieties grown in the country, are no longer grown or only grown in very specific areas and that the cultivation of wheat, including Triticum dicoccum, has drastically decreased. In Albania, all primitive wheat cultivars and many maize cultivars, have reportedly been lost. Notwithstanding such reports on the loss of local varieties, landraces and CWR, the situation regarding the true extent of genetic erosion is clearly very complex. While some recent studies have confirmed that diversity in farmers’ fields and in protected areas has indeed decreased, it is not possible to generalize and in some cases there is no evidence that it has occurred at all. For example, a large on-farm conservation project that studied genetic diversity in farmers’ fields in nine developing countries found that, overall, crop genetic diversity continued to be maintained. 28 Other studies, however, have reported genetic shifts in farmers’ varieties, for example in pearl millet in the Niger 29 and sorghum in Cameroon, 30 and in studies on the adoption by farmers of improved varieties of rice in India 31 and Nepal, 32 it was found that 16 THE SECOND REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S PGRFA TABLE 1.3 Crop groups and number of countries that provide examples of genetic erosion in a crop group Crop group Number of countries reporting genetic erosion Cereals and grasses 30 Forestry species 7 Fruits and nuts 17 Food legumes 17 Medicinal and aromatic plants 7 Roots and tuber 10 Stimulants and spices 5 Vegetables 18 Miscellaneous 6 adoption can result in the substantial disappearance of farmers’ varieties. On the other hand, it has also been noted that many farmers who plant modern varieties (especially large and medium landholders) also tend to maintain their landraces and that in such circumstances adoption of modern varieties might increase diversity in farmers’ fields rather than reduce it. 33 In summary, it seems that general statements purporting to quantify the overall amount of genetic erosion that has occurred over the past decade are not warranted. As with the situation of traditional farmer varieties and CWR, studies on diversity trends within released varieties also do not give a consistent picture over time. Some report no reduction nor even an increase in genetic diversity and allelic richness in released varieties, for example in the CIMMYT spring bread wheat varieties, 34 maize and pea varieties in France, 35 fruit varieties in Yemen 36 and barley in Austria and India 37 . In cases such as these, the new varieties may be less vulnerable than was originally thought. Other studies report either an initial decrease followed by an increase of genetic diversity, e.g. in indica and japonica rice varieties in China, 38 or a continuous decline such as for wheat in China, 39 oats in Canada, 40 and maize in Central Europe. 41 A meta analysis based on these

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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 In the United States of A

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    CHAPTER 4 improvement. While the fi

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    CHAPTER 4 A number of countries 36

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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 In some countries includi

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    CHAPTER 5 Box 5.2 India’s Protect

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    CHAPTER 5 the adoption of national

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    Chapter 6 The state of regional and

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    CHAPTER 6 and African countries for

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    CHAPTER 6 few years, the CGIAR Syst

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    CHAPTER 6 • ICBA: 64 ICBA was est

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    CHAPTER 6 Varieties. Central Americ

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    CHAPTER 6 the first SoW report was

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    160 CHAPTER 6 12 Available at: www.

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    Chapter 7 Access to Plant Genetic R

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    CHAPTER 7 Box 7.1 Benefit-sharing u

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    178 CHAPTER 7 20 Experience of the

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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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    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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    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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    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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