FAO launches new standards for plant genebanks
3 February 2014
A new FAO publication is aimed at improving conservation of food crops, many of which are crucial to the world’s food and nutrition security.
The publication, Genebank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, outlines voluntary, international standards for the many repositories – or genebanks - around the world that store seeds and other materials used to reproduce plants, as well as living plants in the field.
More than 7 million samples of seeds, tissues and other plant-propagating materials from food crops, along with their wild relatives, are safeguarded in about 1,750 genebanks.
The standards are designed to guide users in implementing the most appropriate technologies and procedures for the collection, conservation and documentation of crop diversity. Their wide application also supports research that could stem the loss of biodiversity and boost sustainability in agriculture, both necessary conditions for feeding a world population that is expected to exceed 9 billion by the year 2050.
Well-managed genebanks help to preserve genetic diversity and make it available to breeders and other scientists, who can then use it to develop and share improved varieties, including those adapted to particular agro-ecological conditions.
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