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UN's FAO Opens Plant Gene Bank to Ensure Food Crop Diversity

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Scientists, farmers, and plant breeders in 115 countries will now have free access to genetic data from 64 common crop plants under a United Nations-led genetic exchange program that kicked off last week.
 
The Multilateral System program, run by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, will gather, store, and allow access to genetic information from sets of plants that account for 80 percent of human consumption, FAO said.
 
The program is part of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, a legally binding agreement ratified by 115 countries that enables member nations to access each others’ agricultural gene banks.
 
The treaty was developed to grapple with what the FAO calls the “sharp decline” of agricultural biodiversity due to “the effects of modernization, changes in diets, and increasing population density.”
 
“World agriculture is under enormous pressure to produce more food in a sustainable way,” said Shakeel Bhatti, secretary of the treaty’s governing body, in a statement.
 
“Agricultural production needs to be improved by developing food crops that can adapt to threats such as climate change, desertification, pests and diseases and at the same time meet the demand of a population that will grow from six billion people today to nine billion in 2050,” Bhatti added.

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