DIVERSEEDS at International Film Festival


The 2010 edition of Vedere la Scienza Festival, International Film, Video and Documentary Festival, in Milan from 22-28 of March, presented the DIVERSEEDS documentary film.


As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity the 2010 edition of the Vedere la Scienza Festival devoted a special session to BIODIVERSITY.

See the festival PROGRAMME and the DIVERSEEDS film.



Diverseeds Documentary Film out NOW


This documentary film – made by IDC – shows the importance of agricultural biodiversity for food and agriculture, with astonishing pictures from Europe and Asia.


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 in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. This documentary shows why biodiversity is important for agriculture and how it is conserved and used in many different locations in Europe and Asia.

Order DVD here


Main Film: Diverseeds Documentary Film – 50 minutes

Short Films:

•    Traditional Farmers, Italy – 02:09
•    The Ramat Negev Agro-research, Israel – 04:00
•    The Israel Gene Bank, Israel – 03:14
•    Crop Wild Relatives in the Fertile Crescent, Israel – 02:45
•    Austrian NGO Arche Noah, Austria  – 04:03
•    British NGO Garden Organic, UK – 03:35
•    Swiss NGO Pro Specie Rara, Switzerland – 04:56
•    Organic Farming / Potato Day, UK – 04:06•    Development of New Tea Varieties, Vietnam – 02:28
•    Participatory Plant Breeding of Rice, Vietnam – 02:19
•    Intercropping, Vietnam – 02:06
•    Plant Variety Protection, Thailand – 01:27
•    The Thai Gene Bank, Thailand – 02:29
•    Traditional Agriculture: Rice Terraces of Yunnan, China – 03:14
•    The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway – 03:12


DVD Information: DVD Video, Stereo, PAL, 16:9, Regional code 0. ISBN 978-3-200-01465-7

Order DVD here


Report available: 2nd International DIVERSEEDS Meeting


The 2nd International DIVERSEEDS Meeting, that took place in Kunming, Yunnan, China is now available for download.


First screening of the DIVERSEEDS documentary film


The first cut of the DIVERSEEDS film on use and conservation of plant genetic resources in Europe and Asia will be shown at the BOKU on Thursday 28, 2008 in Vienna.



Date: Thursday, 27 November, 2008.

Time: 18:30
Location: Seminarraum 01, Guttenberghaus at the BOKU, Feistmantelstraße 4, 1180 Vienna, Austria





EU and China to deepen agricultural research cooperation


The EU and China are looking to strengthen their links in the area of agricultural research, according to representatives from the ‘Biotechnologies, agriculture and food’ Directorate of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research (DG Research) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).


Chinese partners have long been involved in EU-funded agricultural research projects; 25 projects financed under the ‘Food quality and safety’ thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) featured Chinese partners, and Chinese researchers are also involved in a growing number of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) projects.

The European Commission is now keen to promote greater agricultural research collaboration with China, and is discussing the best ways to do this with the CAAS.

Feeding China’s immense population is a major challenge; furthermore, even as the population continues to grow, the standard of living is rising, and the country’s farmers are under increasing pressure to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities. Research has an important role to play in addressing these challenges, and that is where the CAAS comes in. The CAAS is China’s national agricultural research organisation, and is affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture

‘The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences is the largest agricultural research organisation in China,’ Dr Huqu Zhai, President of the CAAS, told CORDIS News during a recent trip to Europe. ‘We have over 11,000 [members of] staff, of which over 6,000 are researchers, and 40 research institutes covering all aspects of agriculture except fisheries and forestry.’

The CAAS also has a strong focus on education, and its school comprises some 3,000 PhD and MSc students. The organisation works closely with China’s farmers; CAAS scientists make regular trips to farms to teach farmers new farming techniques and pass on the latest crop varieties, for example.

The organisation works extensively with international partners, both through the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) and through bilateral research projects.

According to Dr Timothy Hall, acting director of the ‘Biotechnologies, agriculture and food’ Directorate of the European Commission’s Research DG, the Commission is particularly interested in working with China in three key areas: animal health and diseases (especially transmissible diseases like bird flu); improving the resistance of crop plants to factors such as drought, salinity and heat; and food safety.

The exact form of EU-China agricultural research cooperation will be decided in future meetings, but it will probably start off with a relatively simple mechanism such as twinning projects.

The ‘Biotechnologies, agriculture and food’ Directorate of the European Commission’s Research DG is promoting international research cooperation with a wide range of countries through a variety of methods. Joint calls for proposals on certain key topics have been launched with the relevant authorities in Russia and India.

Early indications are that these initiatives are popular with researchers. However, setting up these joint calls is extremely time-consuming for both parties. A ‘lighter’ mechanism involves twinning projects. Here, the EU and the research funding organisation in the respective country manage their own calls for proposals. Selected projects are then compared, and if two projects appear similar, the researchers involved are encouraged to work together to share knowledge and ideas and further cooperation. The ‘Biotechnologies, agriculture and food’ Directorate is currently running such a scheme with Canada’s Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP).

For more information, please visit:

Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS): 

The ‘Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology’ Theme under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7): 

International cooperation under FP7:



International DIVERSEEDS meeting held in China


The second international DIVERSEEDS meeting was held in in Kunming, Yunnan, PR China, from September 2-5, 2008.

The meeting in Kunming brought together experts from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Israel, Austria, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bioversity International to discuss challenges to plant genetic resources and possible ways to improve the cooperation between European and Asian stakeholders working on the conservation and the sustainable use of plant genetic resources.

The meeting was hosted by the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.




World Soybean Research Conference VIII


The World Soybean Research Conference VIII (WSRC VIII) will be held in Beijing, China on August 10-15, 2009.

The World Soybean Research Conference VIII (WSRC VIII) will be held in Beijing, China on August 10-15, 2009. It is the top international conference for soybean research and industry. WSRC VIII is hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences together with Crop Science Society of China. THe conference is and organized by a DIVERSEEDS partner, the  Institute of Crop Sciences,  Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Follow the link to the conference Website www.wsrc2009.cn for more information.



Summary of e-conference available


The summary of the DIVERSEEDS e-conference (March 3 to April 4, 2008) is now available for download.

The summary of the 4 week international DIVERSEEDS electronic conference on conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources in Europe and Asia is now available for download.



New paper on underutilized crops in Asia


“Ambiguity in a trans-disciplinary stakeholder assessment of neglected and underutilized species in China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam” has been published in Biodiversity and Conservation.

Abstract: Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species (NUS) are grown primarily by traditional farmers in developing countries. They were once more widely grown but are today falling into disuse for a variety of agronomic, genetic, economic and cultural factors. While these crops continue to be maintained by socio-cultural preferences and use practices, most of them remain inadequately characterized and neglected by research and conservation. The aim of our work was to improve the agricultural portfolio by identifying promising neglected and underutilised species in China, Cambodia, Northeastern Thailand and Northern Vietnam. We began with preparing a “Masterlist” containing 260 species, based on farmer interviews and literature review. After an initial pre-selection we identified 17 NUS for China, 13 for Cambodia, 12 for Thailand, and 22 for Vietnam as of highest priority. These NUS then underwent a multi-criteria and trans-disciplinary assessment involving 511 stakeholders such as scientists, farmers, NGOs and policy makers. Based on the assessment we identified the most promising NUS for each country. We also identified some limitations for the promotion of so-called priority NUS regarding to some substancial disagreement between the involved stakeholders. In China and Cambodia, for example, farmers judged the potential of NUS significantly lower than other stakeholders, and in Vietnam scientists and policy makers had substantially different opinions on NUS compared to farmers. Addressing these ambiguous views will be highly relevant to the develoment of an improved agricultural portfolio.






Go to Biodiversity and Conservation to download the full paper.

More background information on the “Agrofolio” project on neglected and underutilized species.


VIDEO : Svalbard Global Seed Vault


The DIVERSEEDS video on the opening of the Svalvard Global Seeds Vault is now online.

 Watch the video here!













DIVERSEEDS e-conference started


On Monday 3 March 2008 the international electronic conference on plant genetic resources, hosted by DIVERSEEDS has started. In the first week more than 110 international experts have registered and the discussion had a head start.

After a series of internal DIVERSEEDS workshops and meetings we would now like to share our experiences and discuss selected PGR issues and draft recommendations with a wider group of experts and interested stakeholders. The issues we would like to discuss fall under the following three areas:

• Forum I: An integrated approach to in situ and ex situ conservation
• Forum II: Landrace conservation and use
• Forum III: Utilization and policy for Neglected and Underutilized Crops

For more information on these thematic areas and specific questions to be discussed, please have a look at our background document: The discussions and consultations during the e-conference will be an important contribution to the production of our final recommendations, which will be delivered to national governments, international organizations, research centres, universities, and other stakeholders in Europe and Asia at the end of 2008.

The e-conference also includes a “matchmaking” section where you will be able to describe your PGR research interests and look for potential
collaborative partners from Europe and Asia. You are kindly invited to register to the e-conference atwww.diverseeds.eu/forum . In case of any difficulty with the registration, please e-mail Gregor Giersch on gregor.giersch(at) idialog.eu



Crop Wild Relative Specialist Group established


The CWRSG is a new Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union (SSC/IUCN).

The CWRSG is a network of crop wild relative experts around the world dedicated to working jointly to promote the conservation and use of crop wild relatives. It has now published Issue of 6 of the newsletter ‘Crop wild relative’, which is available online at: www.cwrsg.org (a paper version is also available). Back issues of the newsletter are available via the PGR Forum website (www.pgrforum.org)




The International Symposium “Underutilized plants for food, nutrition, income and sustainable development” takes place in Arusha, Tanzania, from 3-7 March 2008.

This 5-day Symposium will be held in Arusha, Tanzania 3 – 7 March 2008. It is organised under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), recognising the need to provide a global forum for exchange and debate on issues related to the promotion of underutilized plants.

The Symposium will be organised around four main areas of importance for underutilized plants: food security, nutrition and health, income generation, and environmental sustainability. Participants will be invited to share and discuss reasons for success and failure of diverse approaches to promote underutilized plants.

More Information: http://www.icuc-iwmi.org/Symposium2008/index.htm

Book of abstracts: http://www.icuc-iwmi.org/Symposium2008/All%20abstracts2202081311.pdf







The executive summary of the Inter-regional Workshop on Crop Genetic Resources Networks, Maccarese, Italy, 3 – 5 December 2007, is now available.

The Thematic Network on Inter-regional Cooperation of the European Cooperative Programme on Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), in close collaboration with the EC funded project Diverseeds (Networking on conservation and use of plant genetic resources in Europe and Asia) and Bioversity International, organized a workshop of regional network coordinators at Bioversity Headquarters in Rome from 3-5 December 2007, with the intention of assessing the changes in the environment (FAO International Treaty, Global Crop Diversity Trust, etc.), in which the networks operate, revisiting existing network concepts and strategies, elaborating suggestions for new/ revised/ improved approaches of regional genetic resources networks and identifying formal channels of communication and cooperation among Regional Networks. The Inter-regional Cooperation Network Coordinating Group considered that the establishment of regular information channels could be a first step towards an increased collaboration and stronger partnership between regional network coordinators and the networks. The meeting’s agenda addressed, among others, the following points: sharing of conservation responsibilities, information exchange mechanisms, network management and capacity-building strategies, and policies.

Download executive summary here




DIVERSEEDS in Chinese Science Times


An Article on DIVERSEEDS was published in the Chinese newspaper “Science times” on 24 January 2008.


Following the public information event held at the Botanical Garden in Beijing and organized by the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese newspaper “Science Times” covered the DIVERSEEDS project (in Chinese).








Dr. Wei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences discusses the importance of plant genetic resources with a science journalist from the Chinese “Science Times” newspaper.















Diverseeds public information event Beijing


With the collaboration of INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) and WWF (World Wildlife Fund), DIVERSEEDS hosted a public information event on the value of plant genetic resources, that took place in the Botanic Garden of the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) on 20th January 2008.






The event will provide an opportunity to learn about the flowering bamboo and the giant panda, as well as the evaluation and utilization of the vegetable Brassica genetic resource.
DIVERSEEDS or Networking on conservation and use of plant genetic resources in Europe and Asia is a project under the European 6th Framework Program project, aiming to open European research networks to Asian research colleagues. With participating scientits from the European Union, Israel, Thailand, Vietnam and China, the project will establish a communication platform and promote knowledge exchange on genetic resources and their management. Collaborating scientists will also jointly elaborate a list of recommendations and strategies.
Your participation in the DIVERSEEDS event on 20 January is is warmly welcomed. The Life World Journal, hosted by IBCAS, will present each participant with an issue of the journal and a one year subscription for 2008 will be awarded to the most active participant.

For more information contact:
Wei Wei, IBCAS: weiwei@ibcas.ac.cn
Zhengyan Zhang, the Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences: zhangzy@mail.caas.net.cn






International Symposium on Biosafety in New Zealand


The 10th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (ISBGMO) will be held in New Zealand from 16-21th Nov 2008.

Established as a biennial event since 1990 to showcase environmental biosafety research, ISBGMO brings together scientific researchers, policy makers, regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and industry representatives to foster productive dialogue and multidisciplinary approaches while embracing diverse perspectives from all parts of the globe.

The 10th ISBGMO includes eight plenary sessions, four evening workshops, and posters.  Each plenary session will offer presentations from 2-3 keynote speakers as well as contributed talks selected from submitted abstracts (due February 28th, 2008).  In addition, a special joint OECD/ISBR session will examine risk assessment practices and explore the challenges to formulating sound regulatory decision-making.

The abstract submission is open now at http://www.isbgmo.info/papers-and-posters/ and will be due at 28 Feb 2008.


Plenary Sessions:

  • Biosafety: research experiences
  • Introgression, naturalisation, and invasion
  • Impacts on soil ecosystems
  • GM animals
  • Abiotic and biotic stress tolerance
  • OECD/ISBR Session: risk assessment — state of the art
  • Biocontainment methods
  • Post market environmental monitoring


  • Designing field experiments for environmental risk assessment
  • Novel approaches to environmental risk assessment
  • Risk communication
  • Regulators’ forum




DIVERSEEDS International Meeting held in Rome


The first large international meeting of our project was held from Tuesday 04 – Friday 07 December 2007 at Bioversity International, Rome, Italy.

The first DIVERSEEDS international meeting brought all DIVERSEEDS project partners together. The meeting therefore provided an opportunity to intensify our inter-regional discussion on issues regarding conservation and use of plant genetic resources (PGR). Previously three regional workshops took place, one in European (Slovenia, 6 October 2007), one in China (Beijing, 18 September 2007) and one in SE Asia (Hanoi, 28 September 2007). The outcome of all three regional workshops were discussed and taken forward at the DIVERSEEDS First International Meeting. This procedure ensured that we agreed on intra-regional issues first (regional workshops) and then discussed inter-regional issues (international meeting). As the term ‘networking’ in the project title indicates, the aim of DIVERSEEDS is not to discuss a particular topic but ‘to establish a communication platform, and to promote knowledge exchange on genetic resources’ that will facilitate collaboration between the regions. The final selection of key issues for inter-regional dialogue was therefore made in order to meet these requirements.

Organized by the The Organization for International Dialogue and Conflict Management, the University of Birmingham, the ECPGR Secretariat and Bioversity International this meeting involved participants from several European countries (Austria, Italy, UK, Germany), China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. On the afternoon of the second day of our meeting we held a joint meeting together with the ECPGR Inter-Regional Cooperation Network (IRCN) with representatives from the regional plant genetic resources networks from southern, eastern and western Africa, the Americas, West Asia, Asia-Pacific-Oceania and Europe, to discuss potential synergies between DIVERSEEDS and the IRCN.



Doomsday seed vault opens February 2008


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGS) is taking shape. Construction work started in April 2007 and should be finished in February 2008.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is being constructed as a cave excavated into the permafrost just outside Longyearbyen. The SGS is intended to ensure genetic variety for the world’s food plants by storing duplicates of seed collections from gene banks all over the world, and will have storage capacity for over four million different seeds. If a seed is lost somewhere in the world due to natural disasters, war or resource shortages, it can be re-established with seeds from Svalbard.The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will open on 26 February 2008.More…Entry to the Seed Vault. Drawing: Global Crop Diversity TrustLocation of the Seed Vault




Workshops held in Europe, China and Vietnam


Almost at the same time at the end of September/beginning of October, three DIVERSEEDS workshops were carried out in Ljubljana, Slovenia by our European team; in Beijing by our Chinese team; and in Hanoi, Vietnam by our Southeast Asian team).

The three regional workshops were carried out to gather information on the regional needs for conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. The European meeting was held in cooperation with the ECPGR In situ and On-farm Conservation Network.

Photo from the first Chinese regional workshop in Beijing




Threatend and Rare Ornamental Plants


Our project partners from University of Kassel, Dr. Khoshbakht and Prof. Hammer recently published an  interesting article on Threatend and Rare Ornamental Plants


The full article:

Khoshbakht K. and Hammer K. 2007. Threatend and Rare Ornamental Plants. Journalof Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics. Vol. 108, No.1. pp19-39

can be downloaded here (after download scroll down to page 19)