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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Situ and Ex Situ: Whereare the Genes of Importance for Food Security Come From?

item Spooner, David

Submitted to: Diversity Plant Genetic Resources Journal
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: October 25, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: This paper approaches questions of the scientific basis for the sole reliance on existing genebank accessions, and the continuing need for the conservation and collection of in situ genetic resources for genebanks. The surveys presented here suggest that the first phase of genebanking has been marvelously successful in collecting and preserving a broad range of diversity of cultivars and wild relatives of the major food crops, but collection needs remain. There is a concern about loss of genetic diversity through genetic drift over serial increase cycles, genetic bottlenecks due to small sample sizes, and accumulation of deleterious mutations. Over the long-term, continuing germplasm collections from centers of diversity would be a wise strategy to regenerate the natural diversity in ex situ collections, assuming that these collections persist. Ideally, the world would preserve its genetic diversity through a coordinated multi-national effort involving a combination of core collection strategies, short-medium- and long-term static and dynamic genebanks, periodic recollections to maintain genetically variable germplasm, and habitat preservation. The science and policy of these questions are strongly linked, and policy must be addressed as well to come to agreement on revision of the International Undertaking. A movement towards farmers' rights, costs for unimproved plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and potential huge costs for funding a global Plan of Action without an appreciation of significant existing contributions of the "north" to Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are hindering this agreement with the US.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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