Collaboration between Private and Public Genebanks in Conserving and Using Plant Genetic Resources

Johannes M. M. 1, Engels,Andreas W. Ebert 2, Theo van Hintum 3
1 Independent Researcher, 06062 Citta’ della Pieve, PG, Italy
2 Independent Researcher, 73529 Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany
3 Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands (CGN), Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Resource type:
Peer review

Public and private plant breeders, crucial users of plant genetic resources conserved in global genebanks, play a significant role in enhancing food and nutrition security. To address changing access conditions imposed by global legal instruments, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity/Nagoya Protocol and the International Treaty, plant breeders have established their own genebanks since the 21st century. This paper examines the factors leading to this shift and explores historical methods of germplasm acquisition. While public genebanks remain vital, collaboration between public and private sector genebanks is crucial for ensuring ongoing access to genetic resources. The study emphasizes successful examples and proposes strategies to strengthen collaboration, focusing on vegetable genetic resources and private breeding companies. (doi :

Top 5 points discussed :

1. Private Genebanks Emerged in the 1990s: Breeding companies initiated the establishment of their own genebanks in the early 1990s, leveraging traditional collections and later expanding with targeted acquisitions to enhance genetic diversity.

2. Call for ABS Arrangement Reform: Recognizing the increasing restriction on access to Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), the authors advocate for a reform in Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) arrangements, considering private sector contributions and ensuring a continued flow of germplasm.

3. Correcting the Perception of Private Sector Contributions: The paper challenges the perception that the private sector isn't contributing to the long-term conservation costs undertaken by the public sector, emphasizing the need for accurate information on private sector roles in public conservation efforts.

4. Shortcomings Attributed to Nagoya Protocol: Private sector genebanks stem from perceived shortcomings in the legal framework, especially due to the Nagoya Protocol, leading to significant differences in expectations and benefits between biodiverse-rich and other countries.

5. Call for Improved Collaboration: The paper advocates for closer collaboration between private plant breeding companies and public genebanks, emphasizing the benefits of strengthening the link between conservation and use for more sustainable agriculture.

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