CGRFA Launches Assessment on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, Advances Work on Aquatic Species
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The seventeenth session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 17) launched the report on the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, a milestone report synthesizing the knowledge developed by the Commission over the past ten years.

Delegates also approved the report on the State of the World's Aquatic Genetic Resources for publication in 2020.

The Commission further reviewed its work on plant, animal, forest and microorganism and invertebrate genetic resources and considered cross-sectoral issues such as access and benefit sharing and digital sequence information on genetic resources for food and agriculture.

22 February 2019: The seventeenth session of Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 17) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN has launched the report on the State of the World’s Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOW-BFA) and reviewed its work on plant, animal, forest, aquatic and microorganism and invertebrate genetic resources for food a agriculture (GRFA).

The SOW-BFA report was lauded as a milestone in the Commission’s history. It builds on more than a decade of its work on genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA) and marks the first assessment focused on the biodiversity providing essential services to food and agriculture such as pollinators, soil biodiversity and wild relatives of food species. The report finds that, on the one hand, this biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate. On the other hand, it also shows that practices that support the conservation of biodiversity associated with agriculture are increasing in many countries. CGRFA 17 delegates decided to continue work on a list of possible follow-up actions with a view to adopting a global plan of action for biodiversity for food and agriculture at the Commission’s next session in 2021.

Members also approved an assessment on the State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources (SOW-AQGR) and asked FAO to finalize and launch the assessment at the next FAO Conference in 2020. A global plan of action based on the assessment will be adopted in 2021. On microorganism and invertebrate genetic resources the Commission adopted a work plan outlining further work on specific groups microorganisms, such as microorganisms relevant food processing or for ruminant digestion.

The Commission further discussed several cross-sectoral issues. On access and benefit-sharing (ABS) regarding GRFA, delegates welcomed a set of explanatory notes on distinctive features and practices regarding ABS in agricultural sub-sectors, including ABS for plant, animal, forest, aquatic and microorganism and invertebrate genetic resources. Future work will focus on a survey of legislative, administrative and policy approaches for ABS.

On digital sequence information (DSI) for GRFA, the Commission agreed to address innovation opportunities, capacity challenges, and implications for conservation and sustainable use and the sharing of benefits derived from GRFA, and invited countries and donors to provide capacity building to enable all countries to access, generate analyze and share DSI for GRFA.

Other cross-sectoral issues addressed included GRFA for food security and nutrition, GRFA for nutrition, the Commission’s Strategic Plan and Muti-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) and collaboration with other agreements and instruments.

The seventeenth session of the CGRFA was held 18-22 February, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy. [State of the World’s Biodiversity and Agriculture Report] [FAO Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of CGRFA 17] [CGRFA 17 Website]


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