Genetic resources commission gathers in Rome to deliberate on biodiversity, nutrition & human health

During the 5-day session, members will also discuss the commission's future work
The meeting is taking place at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s headquarters in Rome. Photo: FAO.
The meeting is taking place at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s headquarters in Rome. Photo: FAO.

Delegates from across the world have gathered at the 19th session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) in Rome, Italy.

During the five-day session, from July 17-21, delegates and observers will deliberate on three matters: A review of work on biodiversity, nutrition and human health; access and benefit-sharing for food and agriculture; and digital sequence information for food and agriculture.

The meeting is taking place at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) headquarters in Rome. At the inauguration, Qu Dongyu, director-general of FAO, highlighted the importance of turning talk into action.

Dongyu also indicated that strong political signals have already been sent from the recently endorsed Framework of Action on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, the Commission’s Global Plans of Action and the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

During the first day of the deliberations, delegates presented their views on the themes. At the end of the first day, three informal groups were set up and were asked to present their views at the meeting.

Over the next few days, delegates will discuss biodiversity for food and agriculture; the role of genetic resources for food and agriculture in mitigation of and adaptation to climate change; forest genetic resources; microorganism and invertebrate genetic resources, including pollinator and biological control agents; and animal genetic resources.

However, as many of the issues — access and benefit sharing; and digital sequence information, among others — are also part of discussions at other international fora, deliberations run the risk of being repetitive.

CGRFA is the only permanent intergovernmental body that deals with all components of biodiversity for food and agriculture. The commission was established in 1983 and on July 16, it completed 40 years of existence. 

Other than working on the diversity of domesticated crops, livestock and farmed fish and aquatic invertebrates, forest trees and aquatic species, the commission also covers the diversity of all the non-domesticated species that enable production to occur. These include pollinators, soil-dwelling organisms, the natural enemies of pests and the microorganisms that enable ruminant animals to digest their food.

At the 19th session, members will also discuss the commission’s future work.

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