Oral Sessions 2017

marlemke's picture

Better in the Ground than in the Freezer

In situ vs. ex situ conservation . What do they have in common? They both try to preserve biodiversity, by harboring as many species as possible, but one fundamental difference is crucial.

While Global Crop Diversity Trust, as pointed out by Elena Popova in her oral presentation, accumulates more than 757, 000 seeds in their “Nordic gene bank” (NordGen) in Norway, a US$ 9 million project, smallholder farmers from all over the world simply cultivate grow theirs in the form of landraces to sustain themselves.

I believe we have to critically evaluate this development. On one hand, it’s good to have this reservoir of different crop plants and more than 80.000 seeds are distributed to farmers in 157 countries in the global South from the seed banks. On the other hand, resistance traits related to climate change such as drought tolerance and water logging don’t develop over night – and still less in a seed bank, possibly decades being stored there.

We need more biodiversity, but in the fields, not in the refrigerator.


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