Experts from 120 countries meet in Tunis for UNbacked plant diversity forum

Delegates from some 120 countries today opened a United Nations-supported meeting in Tunis to discuss plant genetics and food resources, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.Participants at the five-day meeting, the third session of the governing body of the 2004 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, are seeking agreement on ways to further speed up the benefit-sharing aspects of the Treaty, FAO noted in a press release. “No country is self-sufficient in plant genetic resources; all depend on genetic diversity in crops from other countries and regions. International cooperation and open exchange of genetic resources are therefore essential for food security,” stated the agency. “Climate change has made this challenge even more pressing as there is a need to preserve all the crops developed over millennia that can resist cold winters or hot summers. “Yet, agricultural biodiversity, which is the basis for food production, is in sharp decline due the effects of modernization, changes in diets and increasing population density.” The agency said about three-quarters of the genetic diversity found in agricultural crops has been lost over the last century, and this genetic erosion continues. 1 June 2009Delegates from some 120 countries today opened a United Nations-supported meeting in Tunis to discuss plant genetics and food resources, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

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