About CGN

Biodiversity is on the decline worldwide. Ecosystems are under pressure, species are becoming extinct and genetic diversity is decreasing, even within species. Future-proof agriculture and forestry requires a diversity of species and varieties, which is why the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) conserves the variation in crops, farm animals and trees in genebanks and stimulates greater diversity in field and farm. In doing so, we simultaneously preserve our shared bio-cultural heritage.

To continue developing new and better varieties, it is crucial to conserve the variation in plants and animals in freezers and in the field
Sipke Joost Hiemstra

CGN manages collections of (vegetable) crops, farm animals, trees and shrubs. In doing so it supports the development of better varieties and helps maintain genetic diversity in the field.

Our goal is to achieve maximum genetic variation in our collections. The material is available for research as well as plant and animal breeding.

Crop collection

The crop collection consists of over 23,000 seed samples from 30 different crops. The lettuce collection alone totals 2,500 different samples, from modern varieties to those that grow in the wild. In recent years, CGN has expanded its vegetable collection with melon, lamb’s lettuce, salsify and carrot. We are constantly increasing diversity via collection missions abroad and adding new varieties.

Farm animal collection

The farm animal collection comprises over 300,000 insemination doses of cattle, pig, horse, sheep, goat, dog, duck, goose, chicken and rabbit, and includes both commercial and rare breeds. The cattle collection contains the largest amount of samples. Rare breed societies use sperm from the genebank to conserve genetic diversity.

Tree and shrub collection

The tree and shrub collection consists of over 5,000 samples from some 50 species that grow in the Netherlands. This ‘field genebank’ is managed in partnership with Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch government organisation for forestry and the management of nature reserves, and used by forest managers who wish to plant indigenous Dutch plant material.

Read about our quality system

CGN is ISO certified in accordance with NEN-EN-ISO9001:2015.

The quality system is a management tool to safeguard and constantly improve the quality of our work. It increases efficiency as well as the quality and reliability of products and services for customers, clients and financers. The CGN quality system provides insight into the critical processes within our organisation, divided into procedures, protocols and guidelines. It also includes a client satisfaction survey as part of the annual management evaluation.

Cooperation between genebanks in Europe may help implement or improve quality systems. CGN is willing to support the introduction of quality systems in other genebanks.


In working for the Dutch government, CGN does more than just conserve the diversity of crops, farm animals and trees. We partner with civil society organisations, private parties and international networks. Dutch plant and animal breeding companies help us maintain, describe and research the collections, while sponsoring our collection missions.

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