Crop genomics conference in the past, but only just

Sorry, everyone, I should have given a shout-out to the Crops Genomics: Present & Future conference at ICRISAT, which started yesterday. All the usual social media channels are in play, and the tweeting has been considerable already. But what I don’t see, yet, is concrete applications to make the work of genebank managers (as opposed to breeders) easier and more effective. Or is that the future part?

European parliamentarians get to grips with crop wild relatives

A European Parliament committee discussing “Genetic diversity, conservation and crops wild relatives”? Yeah, I didn’t think that was possible either, but here’s the evidence. And you can even see and hear the whole thing, in the language of your choice.1 In the hot seat in front of the committee were: Prof. Nigel Maxted, Senior Lecturer in Genetic Conservation, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, UK; Dr Susanne Barth, Senior Research Officer, Plant Genetics, Teagasc CELUP Crop Research, Ireland; and Dr Nicolas Roux, Senior Scientist, Musa Genetic Resources Team Leader, Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use Initiative, Bioversity International, Montpellier, France.

At least one parliamentarian was impressed with what Nigel (right) et al. had to say. Let’s hope that translates into action.

  1. Though alas the presentations are not shown. []

Vavilov everywhere

A couple of weeks ago, the N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (VIR) held the IV International Vavilov Conference “N.I. Vavilov’s Ideas in the Modern World.” I don’t know if the presentations will go online at some point, but I do have a hardcopy of the abstracts volume and could send a scan if anyone is really interested I suppose.1 I hope that that doesn’t turn out to be a hostage to fortune.

And let me take the opportunity of thanking the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society for making the contents of the N.I. Vavilov Centenary Symposium from 1990 freely available.

  1. Most of them are in Russian, though. []

Agricultural biodiversity neglected in sustainability index

A new measure of the sustainability of food production is out, thanks to The Economist Intelligence Unit1 and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, and making a splash, at least with the countries that come out with a high score. It considers agricultural sustainability, food loss and waste and nutritional challenges at a country level. Among the more than 60 indicators which go into making up the index you’ll find “agricultural diversification” (the share of total agricultural production represented by the top 3 crops) and something called “environmental biodiversity.” This last turns out to be the “Proportion of local breeds classified as being at risk of extinction” which of course is SDG Indicator 2.5.2, as we saw yesterday. That seems to be a little light on agricultural biodiversity (quite apart from the fact that the particular indicator has a lot of missing values). Have the compilers not heard of the Agrobiodiversity Index? Or of the other indicators under SDG Target 2.5?

  1. Who also do a Global Food Security Index. []

Where does the SDG indicator data come from?

Just a quick reminder that the new Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) is now live on the FAO website, as recently predicted. This is the source for SDG indicators 2.5.1 and 2.5.2.

I’ve actually just come back from a meeting at FAO organized by the plant equivalent of DAD-IS, the World Information and Early Warning System (WIEWS) on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which funnels data into the plant part of indicator 2.5.1. More on that later.