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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies 2 Crop Diversity: Institutional Responses The period since 1970 has seen a growth in germplasm collection and conservation. Crop breeding programs have increasingly focused on international needs. Along with this increased interest has come questions about the changing roles of the public and private sectors in collecting, conserving, and using genetic resources. This chapter discusses germplasm collection and conservation efforts worldwide and the global impact of related activities in the United States. GERMPLASM COLLECTION AND CONSERVATION WORLDWIDE Several centers of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)—most notably the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR)—have been active in conserving and managing the genetic resources of plants. The establishment of the IBPGR in 1974 by the CGIAR signaled a commitment to conservation. IBPGR works with nearly all countries of the world to promote and coordinate the establishment of genetic resources centers and to further the collection, conservation, documentation, evaluation, and use of plant germplasm. It is a multidisciplinary effort guided, in part, by the needs of national and international germplasm banks (Williams, 1989a). In October 1991, a previously ratified agreement was signed by board members from China, Denmark, Kenya, and Switzerland, which established the International Plant Genetic Resources
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies Institute (IPGRI). After ratification by the Italian government is obtained, IPGRI will assume the duties of IBPGR and the latter will cease to exist. Role of IBPGR in Catalyzing Collection and Conservation Since its establishment, IBPGR has organized over 400 collecting missions in more than 100 countries. Duplicate samples are offered to the country of origin, in accordance with IBPGR policy. Seed handling units have been established in Costa Rica, Singapore, and the United Kingdom to facilitate the distribution of collected samples (van Sloten, 1990a). IBPGR has also published a wealth of literature on the scientific, technical, and organizational aspects of germplasm conservation. Initially, IBPGR placed a high priority on the collection of major food crop cultivars. However, the importance of wild relatives and primitive landraces has been increasingly recognized in recent years, and these are receiving greater attention (Hoyt, 1988; International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1985a). In 1988, IBPGR organized or funded 22 collecting projects that dealt primarily with wild species of roughly 50 commodity crops. Ten projects were organized to collect landraces and primitive cultivars (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1989a). Nevertheless, progress has been hampered by limited knowledge of the distribution of the secondary and tertiary gene pools of many crops (Williams, 1989a). Although the acquisition efforts of the IBPGR and the other international agricultural research centers (IARCs) are useful for the commodities within their mandates, reviewers have pointed out the need for a strategy dealing with other crops valued by developing countries that do not fall within the CGIAR mandate (Hawkes, 1985). Germplasm Banks Worldwide IBPGR has played a role in developing germplasm banks worldwide; this has been done chiefly in partnership with national governments, regional organizations, and the IARCs (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, 1985). Germplasm banks have been established in 92 countries and 10 IARCs (Alexander von der Osten, personal communication, CGIAR Secretariat, October 28, 1992). More than 100 countries have some form of genetic resources program or carry out related activities (Williams, 1989a), but it is far from clear how many are investing, or are able to invest, sufficient
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies funds to do the job properly. About one-third of the world's holdings is in the IARCs (van Stolen, 1990a). There has been dramatic growth in the germplasm bank storage capacity in developing countries, from a handful in 1976 to about 30 today (Chang, 1992). Many germplasm banks have received some technical assistance, financial assistance, or both from IBPGR (Plucknett et al., 1987). Through 1984, IBPGR allocated nearly $2.5 million to 37 countries for conservation purposes. (Hawkes, 1985). Several Asian countries have built modern seed storage facilities with aid supplied by the government of Japan (T.T. Chang, International Rice Research Institute, personal communication, October 1990). Some critics question whether so many germplasm banks are necessary and whether the funds might have been better invested in crop improvement program During test crosses of rice plants at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, the flowering spikes of the plants are enclosed in envelopes to prevent further cross-pollination. Credit: Bruce Dale, ©1992 National Geographic Society.
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies (Frankel, 1989a). Furthermore, it is uncertain whether many germplasm banks will ever function without CGIAR support. Irrespective of germplasm bank facilities, there are about 400 significant crop germplasm collections (Williams, 1989a), but little information on how many of these are financially viable. IBPGR has designated 152 of these at 38 centers as global, continental, or regional base collections (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1989a). They cover the major food crops, vegetables, and forages—roughly 50 commodities. In addition, 23 centers have agreed to conserve global, continental, or regional field collections of 9 vegetatively propagated crops (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1989a). However, how functional many of these are is unclear. As the number of germplasm banks increases, the need for information exchange and coordination of their responsibilities also grows. The IBPGR originally envisioned a regional framework for germplasm bank coordination. This goal was successful for specific needs, such as the European Cooperative Program for the Conservation and Exchange of. Crop Genetic Resources (Williams, 1989a). However, the regional strategy was not effective where significant differences existed in program sophistication and commitment, where there was a lack of historical basis collaboration, or where permanent financial support was not assured. Latin America, East and West Africa, and particularly, Southwest Asia lagged behind Southeast Asia and Europe in developing regional efforts (Hawkes, 1985). Among the commodity-based IARCs only the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP, International Potato Center) have been fully effective in working with their crops. Currently, IBPGR is reorganizing its approach to one crop oriented networks backed up by crop-specific data bases on the premise that it will facilitate the use of the collections by breeders and other scientists (van Stolen, 1990a). Various attempts to assess the completeness of existing collections (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1985a; Lyman, 1984) have been criticized for putting too much emphasis on the numbers of accessions rather than patterns of diversity, availability, and security (Chang, 1989; Williams, 1989a). Nevertheless, the continued growth of collections is placing strains on their management and funding. Unfortunately, many collections have never been adequately managed. Considerable interest and controversy surrounds the concept of core collections or subsets as a strategy for reducing management burdens and facilitating use of the collections (Brown, 1989a) (see Chapter 5). Critics of the scheme argue that large collections (those
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies with a high proportion of the crop's total diversity) offer certain operating efficiencies (Chang, 1989) and that the reserve collection might be neglected. Other practical issues were recognized early on as a source of serious future problems (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, 1985). Below-standard conditions for maintenance, lack of regeneration capability, insufficient passport data, incomplete data bases, insufficient technical staff, and inadequate operating budgets have been identified (Goodman and Castillo-Gonzalez, 1991; Plucknett et al., 1987; Williams, 1989a)as serious constraints to ensuring survival of the germplasm let alone to maximizing benefits from the germplasm bank network. The potential severity of these problems is illustrated by several findings. In its review of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) this committee noted that test conducted between 1979 and 1989 showed that 29 percent of the National Seed Storage Laboratory's 232,210 accessions had seed germination rates that were either unknown (21 percent) or less than 65 percent (8 percent). Of all of the accessions,45 percent had less than 550 seeds (National Research Council, 1991a). The United State has fewer economic or other constraints than most other countries but, like nearly all of them, it has emphasized storage facilities at the expense of regeneration, evaluation, and utilization. The inadequacy of international efforts to conserve Latin American maize germplasm has been noted several times (Goodman, 1984; Goodman and Castillo-Gonzalez, 1991; Goodman and Hernandez, 1991; Salhuana et al., 1991). Salhuana et al. (1991), coordinators of the Latin American Maize Project (LAMP), illustrated the fragile status of these accessions. Only about half could be evaluated due to lack of viable seed. Almost one-fourth of the 300 races failed to have even one accession with sufficient viable seed for evaluation. The lack of reliable storage facilities has resulted in the total loss of a large number of accessions and severe genotype deletions (genetic drift) in many more. Evaluation Until recently, IBPGR considered only characterization and preliminary evaluation to be within its purview and acknowledged that these tasks lagged behind exploration and collection. However, it is now putting greater effort into collecting botanical and other data on priority crop collections for entry into international crop data bases. In 1988, projects were under way for 54 collections of 30 commodities
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, 1989a). Evaluation is costly. In 1989, Williams (1989a) conservatively estimated that immediate needs for evaluation of major crop germplasm would require $30 million over a 5-year period. He compared this figure with total annual expenditures worldwide of $55 million for managing crop genetic resources. Although in-depth evaluation is the responsibility of interested scientists rather than IBPGR, few germplasm banks of national programs have developed clear links with those breeders and others who evaluate (Williams, 1989b). It is apparent that many national programs do not have the resources or personnel to carry out evaluation or regeneration. An analogous situation exists for enhancement, thus creating a serious gap with a major negative impact for crop improvement in developing countries that falls outside IARC-mandated commodity programs (Hawkes, 1985). IBPGR Interactions with the IARCs The working relationships between IBPGR and the IARCs have evolved over the past 15 years as the programs of each have matured. Initially, IBPGR provided assistance to field collections, installing or upgrading some storage facilities, and assistance with documentation. Misunderstanding developed over IBPGR's role and claims, with some IARCs considering it a source of continued funding support for genetic resources work. This was clarified, and the IARCs have substantially increased their allocations for genetic resources work (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, 1985). Because IARC genetic resources programs have grown in size and sophistication, several have taken the lead in germplasm activities related to their commodities (for example, IRRI for rice and CIP for potatoes). Most of the IARC collections operate as base collections that are partially backed up by duplicate collections stored at another center. IBPGR now serves primarily in a coordinating role, collaborating when warranted on special projects and copublishing CGIAR publications on plant genetic resources activities. Interactions with National Programs IBPGR and other IARCs have had a broad impact in promoting and establishing genetic resources programs at the national level, with impressive progress seen in the growth of germplasm collections in developing countries. However, many problems remain that are beyond the ability of IBPGR, or perhaps anyone else, to resolve. These
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies include continued uneven geographic coverage, operational problems, inadequate budgets and personnel, and neglect because of the low priority of germplasm collections in national development programs (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, 1985). With many developing countries hardly able to support minimal agricultural research programs, it is doubtful that their germplasm programs will continue without external assistance. Several reviews point to the lack of linkages between national germplasm banks and plant breeders as a major weakness obstructing the use of the collections (Chang, 1985a,b; Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, 1985; Frankel, 1989a). In a few cases, germplasm banks were established in countries that had no plant breeding programs to exploit the resources (Williams, 1989b). In the opinion of one expert, the shortage of plant breeders in small developing countries is a far more urgent problem than is genetic resources programs (Frankel, 1989a). These critical weaknesses present opportunities where support by bilateral donors would have a major impact on the realization of benefits from national germplasm banks. Linkages between national genetic resources programs and breeding activities should be fostered through the support of germplasm enhancement and through the support of data-base development (Cohen and Bertram, 1989). Such initiatives would help to integrate genetic resources programs into national agricultural development strategies, but only if the support were sufficiently long term. Roles of Other International Agencies A number of other international organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, have made important contributions to conserving plant genetic diversity. Notable examples of organizations pursuing ecosystem-oriented conservation efforts include the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (now known as the World Conservation Union), the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (Drake, 1989; Heywood, 1989). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has expressed interest in the exchange of plant germplasm and genetic resources issues as part of its global program since 1947. It has provided IBPGR with facilities (until 1989) and support (Esquinas-Alcazar, 1989). Since the late 1970s, FAO has been the forum for debate over the control of genetic resources that intensified after passage of the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act in 1970 (7 U.S.C. Sections 2321-2583).
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies Some have asserted that the CGIAR germplasm banks have exploited developing country resources for the benefit of multinational corporations (Brockway, 1988; Fowler and Mooney, 1990; Mooney, 1979, 1983). However, this assertion has been contested by others (Brown, 1988; Plucknett et al., 1987; Witt, 1985). An FAO resolution was passed in 1983 that established an inter-governmental forum, a financial mechanism, and a legal basis for the coordination of international germplasm responsibilities (Esquinas-Alcazar, 1989). The intent was to give developing countries more control over both the global germplasm bank network to be developed and the use of genetic resources from their countries (McMullen, 1987). Until recently, the United States and many other developed countries declined to participate, in part because of conflicts over plant breeders' rights. After protracted controversy, the various sides appear to be approaching a consensus. Elements of the FAO's proposed program include a global monitoring system, establishment of a network of in situ conservation sites, and periodic reports on the status of world plant genetic resources. DEVELOPMENT OF INTERNATIONAL CROP BREEDING PROGRAMS The establishment of IRRI, Centro International de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), and other commodity-based IARCs since the late 1960s has greatly enhanced the use of plant germplasm to develop high yielding varieties (HYVs) of food crops. The IARCs have become the main sources of externally supplied germplasm used by national agricultural research programs. By 1983, the national programs had released over 1,000 new varieties of cereals, legumes, and root crops developed with IARC-provided germplasm (Anderson et al., 1988) (Table 2-1). The adoption of the new HYVs has been widespread, and for rice and wheat has contributed to unprecedented yield increases of nearly 2 percent annually in developing countries (Anderson et al., 1988). By 1983, HYVs of wheat and rice had supplanted traditional varieties on approximately half of the lands used for these cereal crops in all developing countries, and in certain countries this occurred to an even greater extend (Dalrymple, 1986a,b). Yield increases attributable to the new cereal varieties alone (excluding increases attributable to fertilizers and other inputs) exceeded 36 million metric tons in 1983 over the yields in 1970, sufficient to meet the annual needs of 500 million people (Anderson et al., 1988). Thus, improved varieties have
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies TABLE 2-1 Number of Center-Related Varieties Released by National Authorities in Developing Countries Through 1983a Crop Sub-Saharan Africa Asia Latin America Middle East and North Africa Total Barley 0 2 0 8 10 Beans, field 4 2 90 0 96 Cassava 26 5 32 0 63 Chickpeas 0 1 0 2 3 Cowpeas 14 2 12 1 29 Maize 61 49 126 2 238 Pasture species 0 0 12 0 12 Pearl millet 5 3 0 0 8 Pigeon peas 5 2 0 0 7 Potatoes 31 16 12 2 61 Rice 31 140 129 2 302 Sorghum 8 18 5 0 31 Sweet potatoes 6 0 0 0 6 Triticale 2 2 7 0 11 Wheat, bread 40 44 114 66 264 Wheat, durum 5 3 13 20 41 NOTE: Excludes varieties developed by national programs from sources similar to those used by the international agricultural research centers. a The term center-related means that a center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research had direct involvement in developing the plant variety. SOURCE: Anderson, J. R., R. W. Herdt, and G. M. Scobie. 1988, Science and Food: The CGIAR and Its Partners. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Reprinted with permission, ©1988 by the World Bank. had a major impact on reduced food costs and improved nutrition in the developing countries, particularly among the poor. The semidwarfing genes in wheat and rice have also led to increased yields in developed countries (Chang, 1988; Dalrymple, 1980). Progress with Legumes, Root Crops, and Vegetables In general, IARCs working on legumes, root crops, and vegetables were established more recently than those that focused on rice, wheat, and maize. Germplasm collections are less complete for these crops than they are for the major cereal crops (particularly for related wild species), with the exception of peanuts, potatoes, and tomatoes (Lyman, 1984). Therefore, the impact of varieties developed from IARC-related germplasm is less dramatic, but the successes are mounting. In
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies During harvest time at a demonstration potato field in Bolivia, a government extension agent explains ways that farmers can increase their yields. Credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. terms of numbers of varieties released, the greatest progress for noncereals to date has been achieved in beans, cassava, and potatoes (Table 2-1). In beans, for example, a network of Latin American researchers coordinated by the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT, International Center for Tropical Agriculture) was responsible for the development of varieties resistant to golden mosaic virus. These are now grown in more than 20 different countries, replacing traditional varieties on 40 to 60 percent of the areas planted to beans. Yield increases of 20 to 30 percent have been realized with no other change in production practices (Anderson et al., 1988). Both CIAT and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) maintain and distribute cassava germplasm, from which more than 60 varieties have been developed or released by national programs (Table 2-1). Potato germplasm distributed by CIP is currently under evaluation in 80 countries through 5 networks. By 1984, varieties had been named or released in 23 developing countries (Anderson et al., 1988). Until very recently, the CGIAR network has not supported work
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies on vegetables. The independently funded Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center has assumed leadership for research on cabbage, mung bean, soybean, sweet potato, pepper, and tomato. Although efforts are oriented toward Asia, germplasm is exchanged with over 100 countries worldwide (Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, 1988). Nurseries and the Enhancement of Exotic Germplasm An extremely important contribution of the IARCs is the role they play in the enhancement of exotic germplasm and in the dissemination of exotic germplasm through international nurseries. No other group of institutions is as well placed for such a job, with respect to the combination of daily access to world germplasm collections, plant breeding expertise, contacts with breeders worldwide, and reasonably stable funding. Because of the difficulty of handling exotic accessions under temperate conditions and the decline in public sector enhancement activities, the developed countries are very nearly as dependent on the IARCs for these services as are the developing countries. In sum, access to a steady stream of freely available enhanced germplasm is arguably a sufficient reason by itself for support of the IARC network by developed countries. The centers distribute thousands of seed samples annually to nearly every country in the world. The most extensive form of distribution is through international nurseries, which are designed to test varieties for wide adaptability and yield or for resistance to specific pests, diseases, or environmental stresses. Participating countries have the opportunity to test their own materials against the best international ones and to observe the performance of international materials that may be suitable for the conditions in their own countries. Specialized nurseries designed to screen for disease resistance provide early warning of emerging pathogen threats. Nurseries for testing wide adaptability of major cereals involve hundreds of scientists in 80 or 90 countries. Specialized nurseries usually operate on a smaller scale. Each center may coordinate anywhere from one or two up to a dozen such specialized nurseries for each commodity within its mandate. In 1988, CIMMYT ran five major nurseries and three specialized nurseries entailing the distribution of nearly 3,000 sets of samples (Table 2-2) (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo, 1989). Specialized nurseries are particularly important tools for disease surveillance. Collaborators help monitor prevalent insects and diseases and identify new forms that may pose a future threat. CIMMYT
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies TABLE 2-5 Number of Scientific Personnel and Trained Technicians Involved in Private-Sector Plant Breeding on Major U.S. Crops, 1989 Versus 1982 Scientific Personnel by Degree Level Doctorate Master's Bachelor's Technicians Major Crop Category 1982 1989 1982 1989 1982 1989 1989a Maize 155.10 256.89 100.25 114.10 201.90 269.73 303.35 Vegetables 96.35 108.25 59.50 60.30 92.70 147.20 166.80 Soybeans 35.90 59.69 15.90 25.50 41.80 53.00 94.86 Alfalfa-forage legumes 22.95 28.25 18.00 18.25 16.60 29.30 21.00 Wheat 23.40 25.20 18.20 21.30 27.70 32.60 13.30 Grain sorghum 22.45 22.80 12.05 12.10 32.20 42.40 22.50 Sugar beets 14.30 22.00 2.00 14.30 6.00 18.00 31.00 Rice 7.25 9.30 2.00 4.00 4.00 7.00 14.00 Cotton 17.28 11.11 11.00 6.30 19.00 7.00 37.10 Flowers, ornamentals 4.50 8.35 4.50 9.50 12.50 19.00 24.00 Turf grasses 8.50 8.05 2.20 10.20 6.35 18.70 12.90 Sunflowers 15.00 7.26 13.00 7.20 12.80 15.20 15.50 Barley, oats, rye, triticale 7.05 5.50 2.10 1.55 5.60 6.00 5.25 Canola 0.00 4.27 0.00 0.00 0.00 11.35 2.05 Forage grasses 2.40 1.60 2.00 1.55 3.80 1.70 2.10 Peanuts 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.0 2.00 Safflower 1.70 0.50 1.00 1.00 1.20 1.0 0.00 Fruits 0.00 0.35 2.80 0.00 3.00 0.00 0.00 Total 434.13 580.37 266.50 307.15 487.15 680.75 767.71 NOTE: Data are based on full-time scientist per year equivalents. a Technicians were not included in the 1982 survey. SOURCE: Kalton, R. R., P. A. Richardson, and N. M. Frey. 1989. Inputs in private sector plant breeding and biotechnology research programs in the United States. Diversity 5(4):22–25. Reprinted with permission, ©1989 by DIVERSITY.
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies TABLE 2-6 Approximate Annual Research Expenditures on Private Plant Breeding in the United States, 1989 Versus 1982 1982 1989 Expenditure Group (US$000) Number of Companies Projected Total (US$000) Number of Companies Projected Total (US$000) 0 9a 000 8a 000 Under 100 44 2,200 25 1,250 100–500 62 15,500 54 13,500 500–1,000 23 17,250 33 24,750 1,000–5,000 17 42,500 27 67,500 5,000–10,000 5 37,500 5 37,500 10,000–25,000 0 3 52,500 Over 25,000 0 2 75,000 Total 160 114,950 157 272,000 a Several of the companies contacted conducted no research themselves, but contributed funds to experiment station research on plant breeding, or sold varieties and hybrids developed by others on a royalty basis. SOURCE: Kalton, R. R., P. A. Richardson, and N. M. Frey. 1989. Inputs in private sector plant breeding and biotechnology research programs in the United States. Diversity 5(4): 22–25. Reprinted with permission, ©1989 by DIVERSITY. Private sector research expenditures for plant breeding in the United States more than doubled from 1982 to 1989 (Table 2-6). Investment in biotechnology related to plant breeding was close to $100 million (Table 2-7), or about one-third of total plant breeding expenditures, with major emphasis on maize and vegetables (Table 2-8). Private companies generally focus their efforts on commodities with large markets and on those that can be protected under PVPA, patents, or trade secrets. This is understandable, because the cost of breeding a new variety is estimated to be between $2 million and $2.5 million (McMullen, 1987). However, this focus gives rise to the concern that other crops (small grains, forage grasses, sunflowers, and some vegetable crops) receive little or no attention by private sector plant breeding and biotechnology research programs (Kalton et al., 1989) as well as decreasing attention by the public sector. The effect of proprietary protection on genetic diversity in privately developed varieties is probably minimal. Although private sector breeders felt that PVPA increased the genetic diversity of open-pollinated varieties, public sector breeders detected no effect (Butler and Marion, 1985). The impact of patent protection on germplasm exchange is expected
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies TABLE 2-7 Approximate Annual Research Expenditures on Biotechnology Related to Plant Breeding in the United States, 1989 Expenditure Group ($000) Number of Companies Projected Total ($000) Under 100 13 650 100–500 9 2,250 500–1,000 5 3,750 1,000–5,000 10 25,000 5,000–10,000 8 60,000 Total 45 91,650 SOURCE: Kalton, R. R., P. A. Richardson, and N. M. Frey. 1989. Inputs in private sector plant breeding and biotechnology research programs in the United States. Diversity 5(4):22–25. Reprinted with permission, ©1989 by DIVERSITY. to be minor for most crops. Even for crops that are protected, the incentive to enhance profits by extensive cross-licensing will most likely relieve some constraints on exchange (Jondle, 1989). However, biotechnology patents are likely to impose serious constraints on exchange because they prevent will other breeders from using patented genes (Day, 1993). Restructuring of the Seed Industry The ability to maintain the inbreds parents of hybrid crops as trade secrets attracted private enterprise to the breeding and sale of hybrids early in the developmental stages of plant breeding (as early as the 1920s for maize). Numerous proprietary inbred lines of maize and sorghum have been developed for the production of proprietary hybrids, which also serve as germplasm sources for further breeding. Because of the commercial necessity for controlling these privately developed inbred lines, however, the lines themselves have rarely been made available to the public for breeding or other purposes, even once they are obsolete. However, after hybrids made up of one or more private inbred are offered for sale, the genes, unless separately patented, are legally available sources of germplasm for public use. Thus, hybrid development does not necessarily constrict the availability of germplasm. Hybrid breeding methods have been the major incentive for the development of the private seed industry in the United States and
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies TABLE 2-8 Companies, Scientific Personnel, and Trained Technicians Involved in Biotechnology Research Related to Plant Breeding on Major Crops in the United States, 1989 Scientific Personnel by Degree Level Major Crop Category Number of Companies Doctorate Master's Bachelor's Technicians Maize 19 90.1 44.8 96.9 26.5 Vegetables 17 31.4 23.6 42.0 25.0 Soybeans 6 17.3 9.0 18.0 2.0 Cotton 5 7.15 5.8 8.0 3.0 Sugar beets 3 6.5 2.0 7.0 0 Canola 3 9.5 3.0 20.0 4.0 Alfalfa 2 2.1 3.1 2.3 0.5 Sunflowers 2 1.0 2.0 4.0 0.0 Wheat 2 1.1 1.1 1.1 0.1 Other small grains 1 0.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 Rice 1 0.25 0.0 0.0 0.0 Turf grasses 1 0.0 0.9 0.0 0.0 Forage grasses 1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 Undifferentiated by cropa 2 85.0 20.0 25.0 10.0 Total 65 251.9 116.4 224.3 71.1 a One company conducts biotechnology research on canola, tomato, maize, rice, tobacco, sunflowers, sugar beets, ornamentals, cotton, melons, peppers, soybeans, coffee, cocoa, and oil palms. The second company is researching corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. SOURCE: Kalton, R. R., P. A. Richardson, and N. M. Frey. 1989. Inputs in private sector plant breeding and biotechnology research programs in the United States. Diversity5(4): 22–25. Reprinted with permission, ©1989 by DIVERSITY. Europe since the 1930s, because hybrids sell for four to eight times the cost of open-pollinated varieties (Doyle, 1985; McMullen, 1987). Until 1970, the U.S. seed industry was made up largely of numerous family firms with regional or crop specializations, except for maize. Large private companies tended to dominate hybrid markets, whereas public sector and small companies controlled open-pollinated markets in the United States as well as in Europe. Most private sector research was done by a small number of companies. The restructuring of the world seed industry, following passage of the PVPA legislation in the United States in 1970, drew much attention as large chemical, pharmaceutical, and food processing companies absorbed many independent seed companies in the United States and Europe. However, the trend was not solely due to PVPA,
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies but to a range of factors, including the profitability of the seed trade, the potential of biotechnology, the worldwide impact of genetic research as evidenced by the success of the green revolution, and greater awareness of the potential value of plant genetic resources. Large companies, which were better able to absorb the risks and fund the rising costs of research (particularly for biotechnology), were attracted to what McMullen (1987) called the genetic supply industry. The mergers provided greater resources for research, a broader research base, an enhanced capacity for testing and marketing, and larger markets. However, mergers may have reduced competition and subjected the seed industry to corporate management techniques and quarterly profit expectations. Nevertheless, the concentration of companies in the market is still far lower than that in many other industries. For example, in the world seed market of 1983, the percentage of sales attributable to the top five companies was less than 20 percent, leaving a niche for smaller companies, especially in local markets and for minor crops (McMullen, 1987). Although conglomerates held nearly half of all plant variety protection certificates by 1982, private market shares did not seriously hamper competitive forces in open-pollinated seed markets, where public varieties still dominate (Butler and Marion, 1985). Even in the hybrid maize industry, conglomerates have not been able to outcompete Pioneer—an old, independent seed company whose market share increased steadily from 1973 to 1983 (McMullen, 1987). Overall, however, these recent trends have probably reduced competition and may have also reduced crop plant genetic diversity through the consolidation of plant breeding activities (Butler and Marion, 1985). Balancing Public and Private Sector Roles Through the years, a pragmatic balance has developed between public and private sector plant breeding efforts, which has proved quite effective in producing crop varieties for the industrial countries. The private sector has focused on applied research, seed production, and marketing. It concentrates on finished varieties of major crops with large potential markets, such as maize, sorghum, soybean, sugar beets, alfalfa, and cotton. The public sector has performed basic research and some applied research; developed finished varieties for wheat, soybeans, and most minor crops; developed parental lines and introgressed exotic materials; and put major efforts into training and information dissemination. The relationship between the two sectors is not one of competition but, rather, one of logical complementarily based on the interests of each sector.
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies Many aspects of this complementarity will continue. In practice, private industry lacks market incentives to breed all crop plants and cannot justify the investment to do so. It is appropriate that public sector breeders sustain breeding programs for species not bred by private industry. However, to fulfill their function of teaching and training future plant breeders, the universities must continue to do at least some plant breeding with major crops. The public sector will continue to have a greater incentive and a clearer mandate for long-term genetic enhancement by using wild and unimproved germplasm than the private sector and should make this one of its major commitments. Recognizing this need, the NPGS has placed increasing priority on strengthening enhancement activities (Elgin and Miller, 1989). The vigor of the system derives from the variety of institutions within each sector and from the roughly equal balance between the strengths of the public and private sectors, at least until recently. An optimum balance between the two sectors would retain a diversity of seed producers and germplasm programs that are in both the public and private sectors, and that would include private companies, public institutions and foundations, grass-roots nonprofit initiatives, and international centers. This mixture would ensure competition to produce better varieties, would place checks and balances on the cost and supply of seeds between the two sectors, and would serve a wider range of farmer and consumer interests (McMullen, 1987). The growth of biotechnology undeniably has been a major factor in altering the balance between the public and private sectors in recent years. Heavy research capitalization costs, which are more easily borne by industry, have favored the private sector. Public sector funding has also been attracted to biotechnology, although at lower levels than that in the private sector and often at the expense of plant breeding programs. USDA funds are increasingly taken away from even basic plant breeding programs, unless they are related to biotechnology. State legislatures—the other chief provider of funds for land-grant institutions—are generally not interested in funding conventional plant breeding programs, although they often fund biotechnology research in support of plant breeding when they believe it may expand the economic development of the state. The contributions of molecular biology, however, will supplement, not replace, elite and exotic varieties of plants as major sources for genetic advance. Teamwork between molecular biologists and breeders is essential to harness technological advances to varietal development (Fehr, 1989). Breeders know the appropriate genetic goals and likely gene sources,
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies what it takes to make a commercially viable cultivar, and what are the expectations and needs of the farmers. Molecular systems are not yet ready to deal with the complex traits of economic importance (for example, yield and drought tolerance) that are handled by breeders. However, biotechnology does have the potential, in the near term, to make significant contributions in elucidating genetic control mechanisms, generating novel genetic variation, developing rapid diagnostic aids for pathogen identification, developing or selecting certain types of superior individuals, and a host of technological aids that will accelerate the progress of plant breeders. The varietal protection that preceded, and the patent protection legislation that has accompanied, the rise of biotechnology appear to have had little impact on the direction of public sector programs, other than a somewhat greater emphasis on germplasm enhancement and basic research and less emphasis on cultivar development than previously (Butler and Marion, 1985). Nevertheless, many public sector breeders find it difficult to adjust to the concept of limiting free access to their cultivars, and public use of legal protection has been slight relative to that in the private sector (Barton et al., 1989; Butler and Marion, 1985). The public sector has begun to consider the extent to which it might exploit legal protection—either to generate revenues or to keep developments in the public domain through nonexclusive or royalty-free licensing (Barton et al., 1989). Clearly, adequate funding is the major requirement for sustaining public sector strengths to maintain an optimum balance between the public and private sectors in plant breeding and genetic resources programs. As a means of reaching this goal, funding for biotechnology should be linked to support for traditional plant breeding programs. Land-grant universities need to use greater creativity in soliciting public funds for "packages" or teams of molecular biologists, breeders, pathologists, and other essential scientists to work on commodities important at the level. Industry could tapped for matching funds—particularly for training components—whose importance they recognize. The team approach could be successful not only in linking funding for breeding to biotechnology, but in stimulating the interface between disciplines, accelerating biotechnology applications to breeding, and attracting talented students into breeding via biotechnology. International Implications In dramatic contrast to circumstances in developed countries, the indigenous private sector role in varietal development and seed distribution
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies is minimal or nonexistent in most developing countries. Multinational seed companies may be reluctant to invest in initiatives in developing countries because of the lack of proprietary protection, the small size of markets, and unfavorable national policies. The current situation results in part from the establishment of seed organizations in many developing countries during the 1960s and 1970s to provide low – cost seed for farmers (McMullen, 1987). These were often given legal monopolies, with budgets heavily subsidized by the government. The private sector could not compete with subsidized low prices, preferential access to improved varieties from national breeding programs and IARCs, and public control, seed certification, distribution, and farm credit systems. Predictably, the local private seed industry was severely weakened, international seed company operations were seriously hampered (if they were permitted to operate in the country at all), and the semi-state-controlled seed operations often became costly and ineffective seed suppliers. The lack of an effective seed industry— public or private—remains an important constraint to the distribution of improved varieties in most developing countries (McMullen, 1987). National seed policies have often not been successful, and reform is needed to benefit from new genetic developments. There is a clear need for allocation of functions between the public and private sectors that will be most effective in promoting agricultural development. Private seed companies should be strengthened and encouraged to take over seed operations (production, distribution, and customer service) that they perform best. The public sector clearly has an important role to play in research, seed certification, quality control, regulatory and extension functions, but its performance must be improved. In the 1990s, the challenge is to promote the adoption of improved seed by farmers in developing countries who fear the risks and are reluctant to pay market prices (McMullen, 1987). The governments of developing countries should recognize that private seed companies can contribute to national agricultural progress and should consider modifying seed policies to encourage their participation. Companies must be willing to adapt to the countries' needs and fit into their development strategies, if they are to realize a share of the potential market. National governments should formulate seed policies that encourage private seed production, either by local companies or with external collaboration. Many different degrees of engagement are possible with international seed companies, from distributional arrangements, to contractual growing, to joint ventures (Douglas, 1980). Local, small-scale seed production is particularly attractive for crops for which
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies the market is small and external seed company involvement is not feasible or desirable. CIAT has promoted this approach successfully for beans (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, 1987), pasture grasses, and legumes (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, 1989) in Latin America. The CIAT Seed Unit works through existing local seed companies, farmer cooperatives, or enterprising individuals by providing training and extension support. The approach stimulates farmer interest in improved varieties and may break the bottleneck on an improved seed supply. All of the options presented here are predicated on the existence of a strong national or regional plant germplasm and breeding system to supply the raw and finished materials for improved seed. At the Keystone International Dialogue on Plant Genetic Resources, it was recognized that the high costs of national plant germplasm systems put them beyond the means of many countries (Keystone Center, 1990). Regional programs are attractive alternatives that can be fostered through the use of commodity research networks. To be effective, these need modest but stable and long-term funding. The Keystone group saw an urgent need for global coordination and funding mechanisms to meet worldwide genetic resources conservation needs— conservatively estimated at $300 million to $500 million annually (Keystone Center, 1990, 1991). Discussions are continuing on how to raise the funds from public and private sector contributions and how they should be invested. These worldwide issues call for public sector leadership. Although consensus and implementation may still lie many difficult years ahead, the depth of international concern and the extent of the dialogue are encouraging. RECOMMENDATIONS The need to broaden crop genetic diversity continues to be critical in the United States, but it is particularly urgent in developing countries, where the potential for vulnerability has increased significantly over the past 15 years. Case studies of diversity in major crops since 1970 indicate two trends: (1) In the United States, the increase in the numbers of plant varieties and the decrease in the varietal dominance of some major crops suggest that genetic diversity has increased. Concern remains, however, over the degree of similarity in the ancestries of major varieties and the amount of reduction in genetic diversity that may have taken place with the consolidation accompanying the structural changes in the U.S. plant breeding industry. (2) Genetic diversity in rice and wheat has decreased in developing countries. Fewer landraces are grown because of increasing
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies dominance by HYVs. Because private seed companies were not involved in the wheat or rice seed business in developing countries prior to 1980, farmer choice (conditioned by financial pressure to grow HYVs and a limited selection of available varieties) is the major reason for the loss of diversity in farm crops. Genetic diversity in rice is also shrinking rapidly in the United States and Japan (Chang and Li, 1991). For many areas and in many crops, reducing vulnerability remains a challenge. Concern is growing that breeding programs in developing countries are not equipped to react rapidly if faced with major epidemics. Recent examinations of rice breeding in the United States have shown that some cultivars have more than 70 percent of their genes in common (Dilday, 1990). At present, the wheat varieties in the United States seem to have greater genetic diversity than the wheat and rice varieties in many developing countries. For example, in the United States, six varieties of wheat accounted for 38 percent of the total wheat surface area in 1980. In comparison, in India, only one variety accounted for 30 percent of the wheat plantings in 1983, and in Indonesia, two rice varieties accounted for 54 percent of the cultivated rice area in 1983 to 1984. Countries must make developing capacities for genetic resources management and use, including human and physical resources, a matter of national agricultural security. This development is essential in view of the grave potential for increasing global genetic uniformity of major food crops and the associated potential risks of vulnerability. Countries should assess the extent to which their needs for major crops are met by national and international agricultural programs and seed companies and should develop or strengthen programs for commodities not adequately addressed by existing systems. Regional capabilities for monitoring, enhancement, and breeding should be shared where national resources are limited. Plant germplasm conservation and exchange is carried out on a scale never believed possible even as recently as 20 years ago. This is a result of efforts of many national and international programs in the intervening decades. The burgeoning of germplasm initiatives worldwide, however, is creating crises of management, staffing, communication, equity, and funding. Global efforts are needed to enable broad and effective conservation and and use of genetic resources. Utilization of germplasm bank resources has lagged far behind conservation efforts because of inadequate linkages among the plant
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Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Crop Issues and Policies breeders and other germplasm workers. A global effort should include cooperation among the various existing institutional, national, regional, and international germplasm collections. The lack of a global data base providing information and access to the vast collections that continue to accumulate is a critical constraint to the development and management of such a system. Inadequate management and funding of genetic resources conservation risks potentially serious problems of vulnerability in the future. These issues are addressed in subsequent chapters.
Representative terms from entire chapter: