The centres of origin of important food crops, called Vavilov centres, are considered to be crucial sources of genetic diversity for present and future crop-breeding programmes and thus for human food safety worldwide. Traditional crop varieties and crop wild relatives are often highly endemic, ecologically rare, and most of them still survive in vulnerable ecosystems in developing countries.
These genetic resources, however, are at risk as never before. In agriculture, the widespread adoption of a few improved varieties has narrowed the genetic base of important food crops and led to the disappearance of hundreds of landraces. Conserving and using plant genetic diversity is vital in meeting the world’s future development needs. Given the importance of genetic resources for food safety, and the fact that centres of origin are mainly located in developing countries such as East and Southeast-Asia. We are convinced that it is absolutely necessary to link European researchers with colleagues from these world regions to contribute to and improve existing communication networks.
Thus our project is aimed to open European research networks to Asian research colleagues (working in centres of origin), establish a communication platform, and to promote knowledge exchange on genetic resources and their management. Participating researchers will come from the European Union, Israel, Thailand, Vietnam and China. The main objective of Diverseeds – guided by the International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources – is to jointly elaborate a list of recommendations and strategies to improve the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. These recommendations will be published and made avaliable to researchers, policy makers, farmers and the general public. Diverseeds will be based on international dialogue and cooperation between researchers working on genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity.