Multiple stakeholders contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of plant, animal and forest genetic resources, and hence to global food security, sustainable agriculture, quality and healthy food products; and to the maintenance of cultural heritage and landscapes. On November 11, 2016, more than 140 representatives of Dutch organisations gathered on a network day at organised by the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN). Expert and stakeholder presentations, mini-workshops, networking, and a lunch with special products made it to a successful day.
At the start both the Ministry of Economic Affairs and CGN highlighted the political and societal relevance of conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources. Thereafter, successive speakers stressed the importance of communication about agro-biodiversity to the wider audience, and the need for complementary in situ and ex situ conservation strategies. Farmers are crucial for maintaining genetic diversity in the field, and gene banks are particularly effective to secure the diversity for the long term. For the future it is important to have a better characterization of the genetic variation in the field as well as in the gene bank collections. National NGOs (Slow Food, the Dutch Rare Breeds Society and The Oerakker) explained their role and targets in promoting in situ conservation of genetic resources. A plant breeder finalized the morning session. She discussed the political and technical developments in plant breeding and the important role of gene banks, and stressed the administrative complexity of the Nagoya Protocol for international exchange of plant genetic material.