Activities of the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) are aimed at the ex situ conservation, support for in situ conservation, and promotion of the use of genetic propagation material in support of breeding and research, and as part of our bio-cultural heritage. The programme concerns crops and forest species as well as domestic animals.
Safeguarding genetic diversity
Genetic diversity is a necessity for adaptation of our agricultural crops and domestic animals to new diseases, changing production methods (organic farming), a changing climate, or new consumer demands. On a world-wide scale, this genetic diversity, formed in agricultural practice over many ages, is strongly decreasing. Genetic erosion is a serious threat to the future world food security and hinders the further development of sustainable agricultural production.
The crop collections include a total of over 23.000 different genetic samples of more than 30 crops. For instance, the lettuce collection consists of almost 2.500 samples of cultivated lettuce and its wild relatives.
The animal collections consist of 330.000 samples of over 50 different varieties of cattle, pig, poultry, horse, goat, sheep, rabbit and dog.
CGN closely collaborates with the State Forest Service in maintaining, monitoring, sampling and documenting living ex situ collections of trees, consisting of more than 5.000 accessions of about 100 species collected across the country.
Gathering information about the material in the collection and making this information available via internet is an important priority, for which appearance and properties such as molecular-genetic characteristics are analysed. There is an extensive part on this website about approach and material covering the part of the programme aimed at the conservation of plant material.
CGN acts under a mandate of the Dutch government in close cooperation with breeding companies and an international network of genebanks.