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National coordinators meet in Sweden to discuss plant genetic resources

The diversity of plants essential to our food production and bioeconomy is at constant risk of decline and neglect. Immediate action is needed. One important step in a positive direction is the recently launched Plant Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe. On 7-9 June, the European network ECPGR will meet at NordGen, one of its partners, to discuss the implementation of the strategy.

Plant genetic resources are the foundation of our food and bioeconomy. They are the building blocks for selecting or breeding crops that are more nutritious, productive, and resilient to pests, diseases, and environmental changes. However, these vital assets are under threat due to multiple factors, such as climate change and shifts in land-management practices.

“The loss of our plant genetic resources is threatening the long-term productivity, resilience and sustainability of agriculture and food systems. It is evident that actions need to be taken urgently to revert the trend. In this matter we must work closely together.  I am looking much forward to discussing with colleagues when NordGen is hosting the ECPGR Steering Committee meeting”, said Lise Lykke Steffensen, Executive Director at NordGen, the genebank of the five Nordic countries with head office in Alnarp, Sweden.

Last year, the Plant Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe was launched. The document provides a clear roadmap to strengthen the conservation and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and is vital for Europe to meet its obligations in various international agreements, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

“Now it’s time for a step-change in political will and action in Europe. Genetic resources appear in different policies and strategies, but there is a lack of a coherent legislative and policy framework that needs to be urgently overcome. The plant genetic resources community, supported by ECPGR, is eager to start implementing the new strategy and help Europe make its agri-food systems more sustainable and resilient, and fulfil its bioeconomy potential”, said Marianne Lefort, Chair of the ECPGR Executive Committee.

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