International Developments in Plant Genetic Resources
Establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in permafrost conditions inside a mountain on a remote Norwegian island, is designed to store safety duplicates of seeds from collections around the world. It will help to ensure that the genetic diversity of the world's food crops is preserved for future generations and is an important contribution toward the reduction of hunger and poverty in developing countries. This huge seed vault, which was opened in February 2008, is located on a group of islands called Svalbard, approximately 1000km north of mainland Norway.
Following an invitation from the Svalbard authorities to the international seed community to deposit duplicate samples of their most important seed collections Ireland made an official deposit to the vault in February 2009. Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food launched the Irish deposit which consisted of some of the most important seeds in the reference collections of Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Almost two-thirds of a million seeds, representing unique accessions of Ireland's forage grasses, potatoes, wheat, oats and barley collections were deposited to Svalbard as part of Ireland's international commitments to maintain a broad genetic resource base for future needs.
Pictured at the Irish launch of an official deposit of agriculture seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway were (left to right): Professor Jimmy Burke of Teagasc, Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Mr Øyvind Nordsletten and Minister of State, Trevor Sargent, TD.
International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture - The Treaty - which was adopted by the FAO conference in 2001, further strengthened the international legal framework in plant genetic resources including such issues as mutually agreed terms of access, fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from the use of these resources and farmers rights. The establishment of The Treaty was a crucial step in the fight against global hunger and poverty. There are now 120 contracting parties, including Ireland, to The Treaty, making it a truly global agreement.
Updated Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
A Second Global Plan of Action (GPA) for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) was adopted by the FAO Council in November 2011 as a new global framework for the conservation and sustainable use of plant diversity as a key element in fighting poverty and achieving increased food security, in the face of climate change. This update replaced the First GPA which had been in place since 1996.
The new GPA contains a set of 18 inter-related Priority Activities prepared on the basis of regional consultations and the gaps and needs identified by the Second Report on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and agreed under the aegis of FAO's Commission Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). The main focus of the Second GPA is to strengthen conservation and sustainable use of plants and seed systems and the crucial linkages between them, through a combination of appropriate policies, use of scientific information, farmers' knowledge and action.