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Protecting crop genetic diversity for food security: political, ethical and technical challenges

Abstract

Crop genetic diversity — which is crucial for feeding humanity, for the environment and for sustainable development — is being lost at an alarming rate. Given the enormous interdependence of countries and generations on this genetic diversity, this loss raises critical socio-economic, ethical and political questions. The recent ratification of a binding international treaty, and the development of powerful new technologies to conserve and use resources more effectively, have raised expectations that must now be fulfilled.

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Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to M. Rucli and M. Smith for their important assistance in the preparation of this paper. I also want to thank F. Ayala, D. Boerma, C. Correa, C. Fowler, P. Gulick, G. Hawtin, T. Hodgkin, C. Stannard, S. Tanksley, E. Tewolde and Á. Toledo for their contributions. This paper expresses the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of FAO and its member countries.

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FURTHER INFORMATION

Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration web site

Biological Diversity in Food and Agriculture

Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Ethics in Food and Agriculture

Generation Challenge Programme web site

Globally Important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems

International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants web site

The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Global Crop Diversity Trust — Start with a Seed

The International Agricultural Research Centers

The Seed Savers Network

The Slow Food web site

The State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

World Intellectual Property Organization web site

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Esquinas-Alcázar, J. Protecting crop genetic diversity for food security: political, ethical and technical challenges. Nat Rev Genet 6, 946–953 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg1729

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