Crop Diversity: Why It Matters

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Wilson A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Paula Bramel, The Crop Trust, Bonn, Germany
Ensuring food and nutritional security, adapting to climate change, safeguarding biodiversity, and reducing poverty are just a few reasons why it matters to conserve the diversity of crops and their wild relatives. For examples, the suitability of potatoes production areas is predicted to change, with many of the current production areas in the Americas and Europe becoming less suitable and areas in Africa and Australia predicted to see increased production. These will result in significant challenges for genetic gains from crop improvement. It will also result in new opportunities for some producers but in both cases, it will result in changes in priorities for plant breeding in the future. The key to meeting these challenges will be to fully utilize crop genetic resources that are conserved ex situ and in the field or natural areas. To benefit from these collections, the samples and all the associated information must available to users.

There is a recognized global interdependence for crop diversity in food supplies, thus, there is a need to ensure availability of this diversity through a global system of conservation. This global system includes the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the collection held by the CGIAR Centers, National Collections such as those held by the USDA or in breeders collections, and diversity managed on-farm or in protected areas. The various pieces of the global system also include a multilateral policy framework, such as the ITPGRFA; a global information platform, such as Genesys; and a secure source of funding, such as the endowment of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is an Independent autonomous international organization with its Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. It has established as endowment to secure long-term funding for global ex situ conservation system with complementary short-term project funding to overcome key constraints in global conservation and use. To construct this global conservation system each unique crop sample should be housed in a genebank of international standards plus safety duplicated in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The key collections globally must be actively managed and curated. There is a need for a global platform to share information.  Timely, uncomplicated provision of quality material is critical for users. Finally, this conserved germplasm is too valuable to be neglected due to the uncertainty of annual funding cycles thus there is a need for reliable, long-term funding to support this critical global public good.