Networking on Biodiversity in Europe and Asia
The centres of origin of important food crops, called Vavilov centres, are considered to be crucial sources of genetic diversity for present and future crop-breeding programmes and thus for human food safety worldwide. Traditional crop varieties and crop wild relatives are often highly endemic, ecologically rare, and most of them still survive in vulnerable ecosystems in developing countries. These genetic resources, however, are at risk as never before. In agriculture, the widespread adoption of a few improved varieties has narrowed the genetic base of important food crops and led to the disappearance of hundreds of landraces. Conserving and using plant genetic diversity is vital in meeting the world's future development needs. Given the importance of genetic resources for food safety, and the fact that centres of origin are mainly located in developing countries such as East and Southeast-Asia, we are convinced that it is absolutely necessary to link European researchers with colleagues from these world regions. Thus we aim to open European research networks to Asian research colleagues (working in centres of origin), establish a communication platform, and to promote knowledge exchange on genetic resources and their management. We encourage the International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources to improve the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. We believe that food safety for future generations will be based on international dialogue and cooperation between researchers working on genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity.
Principal investigator: Dr. Markus Schmidt
Funded by the European Commission’s 6th framework programme