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Pact invests US $109 million to secure critical genetic material, maintain global food production
Date:1/31/2013

g collections, the CGIAR Consortium partnership with the Trust envisions adding some 56,000 new samples or "accessions" to the genebanks by 2015, including a large number of wild relatives of cultivated crops. Wild relatives often contain important traits, such as drought tolerance or disease resistance, that can be hard to find in cultivated varieties. New plant breeding technologies are making it easier to borrow traits from distant wild relatives and use them to improve the productivity or fitness of a cultivated crop.

"Today, thousands of improved crop varieties are growing in farmers' fields that can trace their roots to CGIAR genebanks," Haga noted. For example, the tsunami in late December 2004 increased the salinity of many rice-growing regions of Asia. But in the following year, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila searched its collection of more than 100,000 rice varieties and found cultivars suitable for the now-salty soils. IRRI's genebank also was central to helping Cambodia rebound from a country whose rice production was decimated in the wars of the 1970s to become the rice exporter it is today.

More recently, the seed collections maintained by the International Crop Research Centre for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have been mined to help farmers in the drought-stricken horn of Africa switch to more drought-tolerant varieties.

The CGIAR's genebank collection is intended for everyday use by plant breeders and crop researchers. The collection is safety duplicated in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on a remote island near the Arctic Circle. With the government of Norway, the Trust established the Svalbard facility as a back-up seed collection built to stand the test of time and to protect the world's crop diversity from natural or manmade disasters.

The new partnership between the Trust and the CGIAR Consortium will allocate the US$
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Contact: Michelle Geis
mgeis@burnesscommunications.com
301-280-5712

Contact: Susan Tonassi
301-280-5711
stonassi@burnesscommunications.com


Source:Eurekalert


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