A Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe

December 2, 2021

Genetic resources

Genetic diversity is the fundamental resource that allows living things and systems to adapt to changing circumstances. Humanity relies on genetic resources as the raw material for food and nutrition, for livelihoods and the economy, and for immensely valuable ecosystem services such as water management and soil fertility. The climate crisis makes it imperative to conserve genetic resources in order to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of the living systems on which we depend.

In the Horizon 2020 funded GenRes Bridge project the three European genetic resources networks (ECPGR, ERFP and EUFORGEN) worked together and developed a comprehensive Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe.  This new European Genetic Resources Strategy places the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources on a sound footing and on a new level. Importantly, the strategy has been developed through a very inclusive process with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, and has been validated by the national coordinators of the countries involved in the three domain-specific networks.

The Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe is accompanied by three domain-specific strategies for crop plants, livestock and forests, which together provide a framework to enable the transition to effective genetic resources conservation and sustainable use within the region, and possibly beyond. The overarching European Strategy and the domain-specific strategies were presented at a meeting in Brussels on 30 November with representatives of the European Commission, national policy makers, stakeholders involved in genetic resource conservation and Members of the European Parliament.

During the meeting it was emphasized that follow-up steps by the EU policy-makers to adopt an official genetic resources strategy are crucial for stepping up genetic resources conservation in Europe. However, unfortunately the European Commission representatives could not confirm if and when this could happen.

Euroseeds has been involved in the stakeholder advisory board of the GenRes Bridge project and fully supports both the overarching Genetic Resources Strategy for Europe as well as the Plant Genetic Resources Strategy.