Monday, April 28, 2014

On residency at PLANTBANK till May 9th.

This is a very quick post on my current residency at Plantbank at the Australian Botanic Gardens, Mt Annan, which is in South West Sydney, NSW.

I'll be updating on this residency at my Facebook page and if time permits here at Homage to the Seed blog as well.

Stay tuned for more on this. ... and join me at the public page on FB for updates.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Use of genetic diversity to adapt crops to human needs is as old as the Neolithic revolution


Global Ex-Situ Crop Diversity Conservation and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault: Assessing the Current Status

  • Ola T. Westengen mail,
  • Simon Jeppson,
  • Luigi Guarino
    Sophie Munns : Today I am sharing the Introduction to an article well worth reading if you wish to understand more on this topic. 
    "The use of genetic diversity to adapt crops to human needs is as old as the Neolithic revolution[1]. In the 1920s the Russian geneticist and botanist Nicolai Vavilov started systematically collecting and conserving genetic diversity as a resource for crop breeding, making ex-situ (off-site) conservation part of the agricultural R&D system [2]. Crops producing seeds that can be conserved at low relative humidity and low temperature (orthodox seeds) are now commonly conserved ex-situ in genebanks. The two-fold rationale for genebanks is, on the one hand, to conserve diversity that is threatened in-situ (in farmers' fields or in the wild) and, on the other hand, to make genetic resources accessible to users [3]. In the 1930s, the barley breeder Harry V. Harlan was among the first to sound the alarm on genetic erosion of crop genetic resources[4], and, in 1967, a conference in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiated what has become the genetic resources movement [5]. In the early 1970s, other hallmark conferences laid out practical action plans for the FAO and the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to establish an international network of conservation activities and genebanks [6][7]. While the initial focus was on establishing a small number of genebanks with a global mandate, the FAO currently reports that there are 1750 genebanks around the world [8]. Precarious funding, in combination with less than perfect collaboration and coordination among genebanks, has called into question the ability of many of these facilities to ensure long-term conservation, and genetic erosion inside genebanks has become a major concern [8][9]. The need for proper safety duplication of the world's unique crop genetic resources is therefore an important international priority [8][10][11]."

    Photo: A conservationist holds two vials of peas at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
    Cary Fowler, former Executive Director of Global Crop Diversity Trust
    Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic

    "The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was established with the “objective to provide a safety net for the international conservation system of plant genetic resources, and to contribute to the securing of the maximum amount of plant genetic diversity of importance to humanity for the long term in accordance with the latest scientific knowledge and most appropriate techniques[12].The Seed Vault is managed in partnership by the Government of Norway, the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen) and the Global Crop Diversity Trust (the Trust). NordGen is a public regional institute supported by the governments of the Nordic countries, and the Trust an independent international organization based in Bonn, Germany. The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food is the legally responsible authority for the Seed Vault, and its operation is overseen by an International Advisory Council consisting of international technical and policy experts representing, among others, the FAO, national genebanks, the CGIAR and the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The Seed Vault provides free-of-charge, long-term storage of duplicates from genebanks around the world and works as an insurance policy against incremental or catastrophic loss of the original collections (Fig. 1). The international community has called for an effective, efficient and sustainable global system to conserve Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) in the Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA) [13][14] and the ITPGRFA [15]. The Seed Vault has, in its five years of operation, become a cornerstone in the global system emerging from within this international policy and legal framework, and good progress has been made towards the target of duplicating all the distinct accessions of PGRFA conserved as orthodox seeds around the world. At its fifth anniversary in February 2013, the collection stood at 774,601 seed samples, originating from 95% of the 193 UN member states. All seed samples are safety duplicates of accessions already stored in conventional genebanks, with 53 genebanks having deposited material so far (Fig. 2)."

    To read more on this, + view images and graphs go to ARTICLE.

    At the conclusion is this:
    Symbol for the larger cause
    The Seed Vault has gained considerable international media attention and even fame [40]. We believe that media reports, though occasionally inaccurate, have contributed to increased public awareness about the importance of crop diversity. While conservation of genetic resources has been part of the environmental movement since the seminal UN conference on the human environment held in Stockholm in 1972, it has often been overshadowed by other issues. The Seed Vault has contributed towards raising the profile of this issue on the broader environmental and food security agenda. In the words of the late Nobel Laureate, Wangari Maathai: “The significant public interest in the seed vault project indicates that collectively we are changing the way we think about environmental conservation. We now understand that along with international movements to save endangered species and the rainforests of the world, it is just as important for us to conserve the diversity of the world's crops for future generations.” The Seed vault is not a panacea for securing the future's food supply, but it is an important element in safely conserving the genetic resources necessary for agricultural development. As the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on the occasion of his visit in the Seed Vault in 2009: “Sustainable food production may not begin in this cold arctic environment, but it does begin by conserving crop diversity.
    In light of the huge media attention directed towards the Seed Vault, it is important to stress that it only makes sense as a part of a global conservation system. The conventional genebanks spread around the world are doing the essential job of conserving, regenerating, multiplying and distributing seeds to those that use them for applied and basic research for agricultural development and increased food security. The Seed Vault is, on the one hand, a high-profile environment and development project and, on the other, a low-tech practical solution increasingly serving a basic global need for the safety duplication of seeds held in conventional genebanks, as documented in our analyses. There are important synergies between these two aspects, and the Seed Vault plays an important symbolic role for enhanced integration and cooperation in the global ex-situ conservation efforts.

    You might also like to read more of this article below from National Geographic:

    Food Ark

    A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply—but we must take steps to save them.

    By Charles Siebert

    It took more than 10,000 years of domestication for humans to create the vast biodiversity in our food supply that we're now watching ebb away. Selectively breeding a wild plant or animal species for certain desirable traits began as a fitful process of trial and error motivated by that age-old imperative: hunger. Wild wheat, for example, drops its ripened kernels to the ground, or shatters, so that the plant can reseed itself. Early farmers selected out wheat that, due to a random genetic mutation, didn't shatter and was thus ideal for harvesting. 

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    OPEN STUDIO EVENT at Seed.Art.Lab this weekend, April 12 + 13 in Brisbane

    This is a quick post ahead of a big weekend at my Brisbane Studio: Seed.Art.Lab to let you know all are welcome if you happen to be in this region and would like to come along!

    I've just been finessing plans for our wee Pop-up cafe on the side of the Studio plans.... and went back to a favourite book of mine by Diana Henry for the recipe for Yoghurt and Walnut Cake with Coffee Syrup last night. Perhaps the Orange Almond Cake pictured above will be our gluten free offering.... the Walnut cake is not gluten free... but has substantially less flour being laden with walnuts! I go really light on the sugar in it as well... have made this many times and the flavours are sensational without loads of sweetness.

    To read all the details about the event go to the website home page here.

    Also on the home page is the link to the Latest Newsletter which you can read here telling you about my next residency at the brand New Plantbank Seed Research Facility in NSW and this event.

    48 Meemar St
    Chermside 4032
    Brisbane,   QLD
    m: 0430 599 344


    Midday till 5pm both days
    12 + 13 April, 2014

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Up-coming Residency at PLANTBANK.

    In Late April I will take up a two week residency at PLANTBANK at The Australian Botanic Garden south west of Sydney, NSW.



    The Australian PlantBank

    The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.

    Click here to read much more about this fascinating facility which opened in November 2013 and is a partner project with the KEW Millennium Seedbank in the UK where I did a 3 weeks residency in October 2012.
    One of the projects I will be following up there is:
    Rainforest seed project - a project to save rainforest species, our most vulnerable resource  * Read more here.

    Rainforest fruitsSapindaceaePersoonia
    Images all from the PLantbank site!

    This will be a very tight time frame in which to achieve all that I hope to do... research, documentation,      photos will all be crucial for taking away material I can follow throughout  on back at home. However I felt it would be better to aim for 2 periods of two week residencies so I can make the most of the available resources!
    Watch this space for more information.
    In order to cover expenses I am holding a weekend OPEN STUDIO event April 12 and 13. I'll be posting information on that here and at other sites over the next 10 days. Contact me here for direct information!
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...