Niveau juridique : Union européenne
Question du 3 Septembre 2015(en anglais uniquement)
Loss of biodiversity is a current phenomenon that goes hand-in-hand with the urbanisation of Europe, and the modernisation and intensification of farming and stockbreeding techniques. According to recent estimates, around 11.5% of wild species related to priority European crops are close to extinction, whether because of habitat loss or because they are being absorbed into cultivated varieties through hybridisation processes.
The European initiatives aimed at preserving the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and their wild relations have not been doing enough. Preserving this genetic heritage is considered essential. To that end, the need for a European network of gene banks was identified a long time ago, for both primitive lines and lines related to species under cultivation.
Can the Commission state what it has been doing as regards this essential need to preserve our genetic resources? Can it also give its view of the 500 gene banks currently in the EU joining forces to work together?
REPONE le 10-11-2015 de Mr Hogan au nom de la Commission
1. The Commission is aware of the essential role of biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity is a major issue addressed by several policy areas and actions at EU level.
Better integration and harmonisation of information on the material conserved in gene banks is needed to improve management of existing collections and achieve conservation goals, economy of scale and serve stakeholders’ needs.
Research initiatives in support of genetic resources have been launched under Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation Framework, more specifically under Societal Challenge 2(1). Work Programme 2015 of Societal Challenge 2, for example, includes a topic specifically dedicated to improving the status and use of ex-situ collections. Submitted proposals have just been evaluated. Opportunities to support similar activities are also offered by other calls.
The Commission is conducting the Preparatory Action ‘EU plant and animal genetic resources’ tabled by the European Parliament. One of the project’s targets is to find ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of genetic resources conservation in agriculture, included ex-situ conservation. The final results of the project are expected in 2016.
2. In Europe and beyond initiatives(2) exist to coordinate activities of gene banks on agricultural and non-agricultural plants. In the European region, the AEGIS(3) initiative launched by the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR)(4) currently involves 34 countries (22 of which are EU countries). It includes activities on conservation of crop wild relatives.
The Commission is not aware of a formalised network of 500 EU gene banks.
(1) Food Security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy.
(3) European Gene Bank Integrated System www.ecpgr.cgiar.org/aegis/about-aegis/