Creating a World Seed Bank? Meet the UN in Rome

emmer or emer wheat from Israel being sifted by a woman

Emer wheat is one of the world’s oldest cultivated grains. What about plant diversity in this species and thousands of others? How can we hold onto the past for our future? We need a world seed vault.

Emer wheat from the Levant. Pest resistance to crop disease located only in Syria. How often do you stop to ponder about where the food on your plate came from? Chances are that everything on your dinner plate either started as a seed, or used or needed seeds. And likely it all started from the area of the Near Middle East, and countries including Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. The bread basket of the world. 

Plant genetic resources form the basis for all our food from plants. They are a precious resource that most of us take for granted, but we should not. Why? Because the diversity of these valuable resources has been either diminishing or disappearing.

Thousands of varieties of food plants have vanished in our lifetime alone. That means that the diverse sources of our food from plants are being depleted, while our numbers are increasing. This is an untenable situation.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which this year turns 15 years old, has been working around the world to stop the loss of agro-biodiversity.

Through this global pact, member countries work together to conserve and sustainably use the world’s precious plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

From 11-16 November at FAO’s headquarters in Rome the Treaty’s governing body will hold its 8th Session, bringing together delegates from 146 member nations, plus experts, observers, non-governmental organizations, scientists, farmers’ representatives and other international organizations.

Together, Governing Body delegates will be making a series of decisions for the future work and activities of the International Treaty.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu will deliver an address at the GB-8 Opening Ceremony that will commence at 10.00 hours on Monday, 11 November 2019 in Rome.

Key people meeting there include:

 Qu Dongyu, Director-General, FAO

Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, India

Robert Watson, chemist, UK

Evalyne Adhiambo Okoth, smallholder farmer from Kenya

Christine Dawson, Governing Body Chair USA

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