Nibbles: Golden Rice vs kitchen gardens, China vs world, Cool fungi, Measuring nutrition outcomes, Ancient pig keeping, Mapping potatoes, Plant evolution, Supporting genebanks

by Luigi Guarino on August 28, 2013

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Bost August 29, 2013 at 3:29 am

Perhaps even more germane (Nabhan’s previously published comment being in regards to forages and tree seeds) is his comment: “Finally, the National Plant Germplasm System, the Department of Agriculture’s national reserve of crop seeds, should be charged with evaluating hundreds of thousands of seed collections for drought and heat tolerance, as well as other climatic adaptations — and given the financing to do so. Thousands of heirloom vegetables and heritage grains already in federal and state collections could be rapidly screened and then used by farmers for a fraction of what it costs a biotech firm to develop, patent and market a single “climate-friendly” crop.”

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Dave Wood August 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

The Nabhan quote came from the link (an article by Zuckerman) which includes: “The Food and Agriculture Organization currently oversees 11 gene banks … the cost of maintaining the U.N. collections runs to $18 million annually…”
I suppose it had to happen: poor old CGIAR (or whatever they call themselves now) — a total inability to sell themselves and their 50 years hard work, so others are doing it for them (and getting the lolly). These are not, repeat not, U.N. collections.

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Luigi Guarino August 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Article 15 of the International Treaty states that Contracting Parties to the Treaty call upon the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) to conclude agreements with the Governing Body of the Treaty with regard to ex situ collections.”

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Dave Wood August 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

Luigi: Someone told the lady this: it is not correct. The CG collections remain the entire responsibility of the CG individual Boards of Trustees under their individual jurisdictions. The Treaty Governing Body can give policy `guidance’: the CG individual centres can reject this guidance if they wish.

Also from Art 15: `The Contracting Parties agree to provide facilitated access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in Annex I under the Multilateral System to IARCs of the CGIAR…” There is lots of evidence from the documents for the forthcoming Muscat meeting of the Treaty GB that this is not happening: developing countries are sitting on their collections, `dog in the manger’ style. This is a disaster for them – as most developing countries have most of their crop production from introduced crops that need periodic shots in the arm from international plant breeding (or at least international access to new resources).
We urgently need a plan `B’ based on the value of crop introduction and public plant breeding, with a move away from the biopiracy narrative on the immense value of national collections plus the evils of patenting by multinationals that underpinned the CBD – a narrative that the Treaty seems unable to correct.

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