Genetic diversity, conservation and crop wild relatives

Building József Antall, room 2Q2 - European Parliament Brussels
© European Union (2017)

The committee meeting on 7 December consisted of the hearing on genetic diversity, conservation and crops wild relatives. Crop wild relatives are closely related to our cultivated crops, but grow naturally under a wide range of environmental conditions. They can be crossed with existing crops to produce varieties that are more adaptable to local climates. Furthermore they can be used to develop crop varieties with greater resilience to climate change.

Not only is it important to conserve these species in secure gene banks, it is also important to conserve them in their natural habitats so that they continue to adapt and change. The 'European Biodiversity Strategy' (COM (2011) 244 final) aims to help stopping global biodiversity loss and also reflects EU commitments in the 'International Convention on Biological Diversity'. The purpose of this hearing was to up-date AGRI Committee members on the state-of-play in research and allow for a debate on crop wild relatives, preserving the genetic banks and the role of genetic diversity notably in relation to food security.