Agriculture in Europe faces some major challenges, associated with the need to deliver food security worldwide at a time of increasing pressures from population growth, climate change and economic instability and the continuing imperative to avoid further losses in biodiversity.
Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) include the traditional crop varieties and their wild relatives, modern cultivars, breeding lines and genetic stocks which provide food, feed for domestic animals, fibre, clothing, shelter, medicine and energy.
Making better use of plant genetic resources is a very important part of the necessary response to the challenges for agriculture. EASAC advises that the conservation and use of plant genetic diversity should be an important concern in Europe.
In the view of EASAC, there is great potential to capitalise on advances in the biosciences to develop agricultural systems based on sustainable intensification principles, offering safe, high-quality products, while protecting the environment, supplying diversified public goods, promoting growth and creation of jobs in rural areas and reinforcing the competitive ability of the EU agricultural sector.
It is vital for policymakers in the EU and at the Member State level to recognise the crucial contribution that plant genetic resources can make to tackling the EU societal challenges across a broad front and ensuring policies are in place to support their enhanced conservation and use.