Saturday, January 31, 2015

Include genes in climate change plans, urges FAO

Jan Piotrowski in The UN is mooting the inclusion of genetic resources in guidelines for national climate change adaptation plans to support food security in developing countries.  Guidelines adopted this month by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) set out step-by-step advice for safeguarding a healthy gene pool. This includes ensuring access to a wide variety of plant, animal and microbe species through seed banks, environmental protection programmes and research.

The guidelines chime with advice from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which helps countries create national adaptation plans. But according to an FAO statement, it remains to be seen whether the FAO’s guidelines will become an official part of the UNFCCC guidelines on national adaptation plans. The FAO commission is pushing for this to happen, it said in its statement.

Similar guidelines already exist for health and water issues, so it is time that genetic resources are acknowledged in the adaptation process, says Linda Collette, the secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

“People do not realise the importance of genetic resources in the climate change debate,” she says. “Having the right seeds and breeds is absolutely essential for climate change adaptation.”...

A baobab in Zimbabwe split open to show the seeds, shot by JackyR, Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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