Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
general aspects and research opportunities
Rome, 5 - 6 November 2009
2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity.
In preparation for this event, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei has proposed to the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) a study on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), the biodiversity section that ensures food, goods and services to human beings. The aim is to verify the general aspects introduced by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (IT-PGRFA) and the research opportunities these resources may offer.
To gain first hand information on their importance for European agriculture, the Academy has carried out a survey, whose results indicate that the PGRFA are assessed almost unanimously as important / very important and are expected to remain so in the future, in view of the strong dependence of European agriculture on foreign genetic resources, the present narrow genetic base in most crops, and the need of genes for new traits, such as those for biological resistance to disease and tolerance to environmental stress, and adaptation to climatic change.
Most European countries have a good system of conservation and a European Cooperative Programme is very active in coordinating conservation efforts. The almost two million samples preserved are mostly utilised as a source of genes but not for basic research. A wealth of knowledge can by obtained from their analyses, such as amount and distribution of variation, identification of genes underlying that variation, natural selection for complex characters and adaptation, co-evolution of plant-other organisms. The information gained would allow a better understanding on natural forces that shape and maintain life on the Earth and provide scientists with indications useful to breed more sustainable varieties and to design a better management strategies for crop and natural stands.
The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei has organised an international workshop, where delegates from various Academies and international organisations will present and debate these important issues. Poster exhibition (poster abstract form) will enrich the programme.