[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 01 July 2005 10:14
Subject: 102: Review of issues concerning aquatic genetic resources
This is Ron Jones from Canada, again.
I have been going through the archives of this conference picking out those contributions relating to biotechnology applications to the conservation of aquatic genetic diversity and other messages useful to a general focus on key concerns for aquatic systems. I think that Adegoke`s messages (nr. 101, June 30), although a bit off topic for this conference, is an excellent contextual setting for most of the drivers of change and pressures facing those who are working on conservation of genetic resources in developing countries, be it in any wild or culture-based system. This context, I feel, really forces us to ask serious questions on how we are going to prioritize our efforts. On what natural resources are we going to concentrate these wonderful tools and techniques we have been discussing over the last few weeks.
In the developed world we can concentrate time and money on applied microbiology and molecular genetics to discoveries from bioprospecting in extreme environments (hotsprings, deep sea vents, deep caves etc) with the aim for a cure to cancer or perhaps a better adhesive. Where do our values for the natural world reside? Decisions on what we save and what goes extinct will, in this man-driven epoch, for the time being be based on livelihood decisions and all the fancy science and explorations will be used primarily for finding new materials or using our knowledge of genetics to improve (intensify) existing food production systems and the commercial health care industries. With 6 billion+ people on this planet we no longer have the luxury to try and conserve everything. We should focus on those organisms and processes which have/may have direct application and utilization in ecological food and livelihood systems, based on applied research from key biogeographic regions. If we can lovingly, intelligently and ethically apply an inclusive form of sustainable livelihoods approach we will save a good deal (NB. re-read Aldo Leopold). What is an acceptable resolution of understanding needed to solve immediate problems? [Information on the American naturalist Aldo Leopold's work available e.g at http://gargravarr.cc.utexas.edu/chrisj/leopold-quotes.html ...Moderator].
For applied issues in aquatic systems, Devin Bartley`s Turin paper, asks questions such as "How to choose aquatic species for domestication?" or "How to manipulate genetic resources to increase and improve domestication?". This will involve the recognition of the risks of losing potentially valuable (social, economic and ecological) genetic material for future considerations. What is not "valuable" today may be important sources of genetic diversity in breeding or stocking programmes in the future. These are key questions and concerns. S.G. Tan`s message (nr. 69, June 21) and Subha Bhassu (Message 62 June 20) emphasize the important concept of using molecular techniques in the elucidation of, and prevention of, inbreeding (low hetrozygosity effects) in aquaculture stocks, which is a persistent result from breeding of highly fecund and small founder populations, whether in a hatchery programme or from an unknown wild source considered for breeding. Inbreeding (depression and introgression) prevention and the separation of family (full and half sib) mating systems will always be a challenge for hatchery set ups. I refer readers interested in applied biotechnology in aquaculture to Han Magnus Gjoen`s Introduction to the Proceedings of the Aquaculture Biotechnology Workshop, 12-12 May, 2004, St. Andrews, Canada (Bulletin of the Aquaculture Association of Canada 104-2 (2004). The introduction, plus the papers within, contain a good overview of issues facing developed world aquaculture with perhaps eventual implicatons for global aquaculture in general. [Devins's paper (entitled "Status of the the world's fishery genetic resources") was presented at the international workshop held on 5-7 March in Turin as part of the preparations for this e-mail conference (proceedings available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/torino05.htm). I assume the 2004 proceedings from the Canadian aquaculture biotechnology workshop will be made available at http://www.aquacultureassociation.ca/bulletin/pub.html ...Moderator].
Once choices are made, hopefully via enlightened political will free of corruption and entrenched cultural biases and dogma, on where and what we are to focus our limited resources, we will have to face the challenges in conserving the in situ aquatic genetic resource base (through forms of creative co-management governance), as little aquatic domestication has ocurred, and using both evolutionary biology and our molecular tools to pin down areas and species of high genetic relevance for aquaculture, inland water fisheries enhancement, and potential areas for bioprospecting. Molecular and evolutionary tools must be used when contemplating the introduction of any potentially disruptive aquatic species. We should develop methodologies and apply OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), EIFAC (European Inland Fishery Advisory Committee) and CCRF (Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries) guidelines as soon as possible because aquatic species will continue to be introduced deliberately and unintentiionally all over the world, so let's use this dynamic to strategically produce more from our diversity of waterbodies.
I guess in the end, the issues and impacts on aquatic ecosystems and the genetic diversity they contain may prove more difficult and pressing to manage than terrestrial systems, for many reasons, not the least our fundamental dependence on unpolluted water and general lack of understanding of aquatic environments (freshwater and marine, although this is improving) but perhaps, more importantly, the complex, non-linear and multi-scale/multi-use relationships which occur in these highly connected enviornments. The physio-chemical and biotic worlds are intricately linked to the socio-ecological worlds of the people who live there. These spheres are linked through complex webs of resource, information and energy feedback which are difficult to highlight and generalize. I think that building the local or national capacities to study and manage these systems must go beyond providing new tools and lab space (this infrastructure and training is surely needed to some extent), but creative governance approaches must be found which inspires researchers beyond "publishable science" to work with resource users and managers to find out how these biologically diverse systems work. Maintaining the structural and functional integrity of aquatic habitats and the key factors which foster evolution and systems resilience will provide the genetic diversity for any future designs we have. Humans are the the foremost "ecological engineers" and if assumptions concerning the existence of alternate stable states and bifurcation thresholds for marine and feshwater systems exist, then our political choices in how we manage these social-ecological relationships will have direct consequences on the quality of the ecological inheritance we leave for future generations.
The incresing complexity of today`s conservation problems requires us to forge bridges between many of the scientists participating in this conference and those in the social sciences, law, politics and spirituality to develop equitable approches to alleviating poverty and the sustainable use of natural resources
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
channastri (at) netscape.net
Sent: 01 July 2005 10:22
Subject: 103: Curated molecular marker data base
This is from Ted Kisha, again.
Responding to a question from the Moderator, I can clarify that the use of the term "curated" in my messages was in the context of the data base itself for which the term means to "organize and oversee". In that context, the markers should be "organized" by someone who has a significant interest in the species being analyzed, and who has mapped the markers to ensure that they:1. are randomly distributed
Curation of incoming data generated by these markers is, of course, very important to ensure that the markers are accurately labelled for comparison to other data.
A set of standards (not just molecular weight standards, but standard plant tissue to generate known fragment sizes (microsatellite) or known fragment patterns (AFLP)) for comparison should be readily available for distribution to interested researchers.
Theodore J. Kisha
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6402
kisha (at) @mail.wsu.edu
Sent: 01 July 2005 10:28
Subject: 104: Re: Capacity building // Decentralised banks
I am Dr. Isaac Osakwe, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Animal Production and Fisheries Management, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria. My area of specialisation is animal nutrition. Ebonyi State University just started a four-year degree programme leading to a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology. As a nutritionist, I would like to see gene-based technology that would develop transgenic forages or use molecular genetics to breed, select and conserve forages with specific nutritive qualities such as reduced anti-nutritional factors e.g. lignin, tannin, toxins etc. in grasses, legumes and browse plants. Also enhance resistance of forages to diseases and drought.
Frankly, there is no meaningful characterisation and conservation of genetic resources using biotechnology in animals in most developing countries. Some progress has been recorded in plants, especially in countries where international research centres have their headquarters or country programmes. This is possible because of the huge funding made available to these research centres from donors from developed countries.
I agree with Sylvia Uzochukwu (Message 83, June 26) that funding bodies are not reluctant to release funds for biotechnology proposals but very reluctant to release funds for training and updating scientist at national levels. I think and believe that some governments and national stakeholders, private foundations and NGOs in developing countries should be able to fund this aspect and then take advantage of the funding from big funding bodies/agencies for research proposal. Governments in developing countries should be able to show their will and determination that they are sincere and committed to capacity building in biotechnology. Money stashed away in foreign banks by corrupt leaders at all levels and those used by warlords should be diverted to research in biotechnology and we shall see developing countries come at par with developed countries.
Dr. Isaac I. Osakwe
Department of Animal Production and Fisheries Management
Ebonyi State University, PMB 053, Abakaliki
E-mail: osakwe_I (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 01 July 2005 10:48
Subject: 105: Re: Markers - Characterisation - Biopiracy
My name is Bocar Oumar Kante. I´m a volunteer to the legal office of FAO. My nationality is Senagalese. I have been living in Paris since October 2003, where I did a DESS in cultural heritage law. Now I´m doing a PhD and my thesis title is: Cultural heritage law in Africa. I include in this research the study of local community rights.
I first join my opinion to the message (nr. 72, June 23) from Vladimir Magalhães who said that "The use of biotechnology to conserve the biodiversity cannot be considered as a solution but only a palliative when the biodiversity in the developing countries is being destroyed by an economic model built by developed countries, through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for instance, based on the economic exploitation of developing countries and their natural resources." And I add the reference of an note from the UNCTAD secretariat (UNCTAD and the civil society: Towards our common goals, 10th session, Bangkok, 12-19 February 2000) which recognises that article 27.3(b) of the TRIPS agreement encourages biopiracy. It´s then a real paradox when some states argue that if the developing countries recognise patents they cannot claim benefit sharing.
Volunteer of FAO
Room A 441
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla,
[This topic can be continued only if focusing on the role that biotechnology can play for the characterisation/conservation of genetic resources. The note by the secretariat referred to above is a statement to the 10th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The statement "reflects the outcome of the NGO Plenary Caucus held at UNCC-ESCAP, Bangkok, on 7-8 February 2000. It was adopted by acclamation at the meeting, which was attended by approximately 160 participants representing around 120 non-governmental organizations from over 40 countries". http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/ux_td390.en.pdf ...Moderator].
Sent: 01 July 2005 10:59
Subject: 106: Root crop diversity and local tissue culture
I am Ann Marie Thro, National Program Leader for Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CSREES manages funding approriated by the U.S. Congress for agricultural research in the 50 states. I have also served as Commissioner of the USDA Plant Variety Protection Office and as Coordinator of the international Cassava Biotechnology Network (CBN).
I have been following the conference with interest and would like to add an additional concept. This was proposed to CBN by a Colombian NGO called FIDAR (Fundación para la Investigación y el Desarrollo Agrícola). In the Andean countries, many lesser-known root and tuber crops (such as canna and oxalis) are indigenous. Most have been grown less and less frequently. Jose Restrepo of FIDAR observed to CBN that because fewer and fewer of the vegetative planting stocks of these crops remain, they tend to be weakened by systemic pathogens carried in the propagation materials. FIDAR proposed a low-cost rural-level tissue culture project, using local materials, to propagate these indigenous roots and tubers. The stocks would have been cleaned up first at an expert lab using thermotherapy. Tissue culture would allow pathogen-free propagation materials to be multiplied and distributed rapidly, allowing farmers to explore possible renewed interest in these indigenous crops in the urban markets of South America. This would have been a form of in-situ germplasm preservation, combined with using the germplasm, and providing an additional income source for farmers, made possible through tissue culture. When last I heard, this project had not yet found a donor. Perhaps someone else following this e-conference?
The primary FIDAR proposal was for developing low-cost rural-level tissue culture methods for cassava, a major indigenous root crop that also suffers from pathogen build-up in planting material. The cassava proposal was funded by the Participatory Research initiative of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Low-cost tissue culture methods using locally-obtainable materials were successfully developed, and the project is now in its second phase. Information about the cassava tissue culture can be found at www.ciat.cgiar.org/biotechnology/cbn/colombia.htm ("Application of low-cost in vitro propagation techniques to conserve native varieties and produce quality cassava seed in southwestern Colombia"), or by contacting Alfredo Alves, the current CBN Coordinator (at a.alves (at) cgiar.org, see the same web site).
Ann Marie Thro
800 9th St. SW
Washington DC 20024
202 401 6702
athro (at) csrees.usda.gov
Sent: 01 July 2005 11:22
Subject: 107: Biotechnology and conservation of livestock - Pakistan
I am Dr. Masroor Ellahi Babar, Associate Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. I am currently working as a visiting scientist at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Nova Scotia, Canada and engaged in genomic studies of Livestock.
I read most of the messages of very learned scientists who sent their messages from all over the world about this emerging field of science “Biotechnology”. First of all, I want to say that no nation can progress unless it improves its educational standards especially in applied sciences which are directly related to human welfare. In Pakistan, there are some of the world famous breeds of livestock. Sahiwal and Red Sindhi cattle have a great potential for milk production. Nili-Ravi is the world’s best buffalo breed and can also be used for meat production. Lohi and Kajli sheep and Beetal, DDP, Kamori and Teddy goat can make revolution in livestock sector.
In the developing countries there is lack of planning for livestock sector, resulting in little promising results. Due to lack of specialists in the public sector, there is no continuity in research work. If a person speaks in favor of importation of pure Friesian cattle, the officials import big flocks of pure breeds without debating its demerits. Similarly, by listening to a few advantages of crossbreeding, all the people start crossbreeding without seeing the merits of selection of indigenous germ plasm. Due to ill planned cross breeding more than 60-70% of the native breeds of cattle, sheep and goat have not been evaluated in Pakistan and the purebred are only available at government livestock farms. There is a dire need for long term planning in developing countries especially in Asia.
I think the need of conservation or even the preservation of local breeds of livestock is essential for the future of developing countries especially in Pakistan. All the methods of cryoconservation, including embryo and semen preservation and establishing DNA banks, should be started immediately otherwise we will lose some of the precious breeds of the world. In this aspect, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore took a leading step in establishing a DNA bank having 300 DNA samples of nine local breeds of sheep of Pakistan. It is our future strategy to increase the number of species and samples from different breeds in this bank in the near future.
Now as regards the biotechnology or genomic studies in the animal sector, there is severe shortage of trained manpower in the developing countries. In Pakistan, no specialized institute is engaged in livestock genomic studies. Only a few institutes are engaged in plant genomic studies. During my stay in Canada, I saw that even the farmers of the developed countries are aware of the genetic resistance against diseases like scrapie and BSE but in developing countries nobody even knows about these problems and what to talk about their detection at DNA level, precautions and remedies. I think organizations like FAO should put more emphasis towards developing countries as compared to developed countries regarding capacity building and establishment of institutes for genomic studies. The universities of the developed countries should make linkage programs and have close liaison with developing country universities. This will also be helpful for the developing countries as they have the knowledge and access to genetic variability which is not available in their animals. There are many countries like Canada which have not their own genetic resources. The universities of such countries should make sister relationships with the universities of densely populated areas of subcontinent and should initiate some solid research projects related to genomic studies. [To say that Canada does not have their own animal genetic resources does not seem a fair comment. See e.g http://dad.fao.org/cgi-dad/$cgi_dad.dll/selsimp or http://www.cfagrf.com/ ...Moderator].
I am of the strong opinion that unless the developing countries start learning new techniques of biotechnology, they can never bridge the gap of science that currently exists between developed and developing countries. Even this gap will become wider with the passage of time. Use of DNA markers and marker assisted selection are very powerful tools and should be used more and more with traditional quantitative genetics procedures. All of us know that such type of research needs long term adequate financial support. This money should be spent on capacity building and establishment of solid institutes for genomic studies. Source of funding is the question of time. World reputed organizations should think on this serious issue.
Dr. Masroor Ellahi Babar,
Nova Scotia Agricultural College,
PO Box 550
Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 5E3
MBABAR (at) nsac.ns.ca
Sent: 01 July 2005 12:32
Subject: 108: Capacity building for biotechnology
This is Kazhila Croffat Chinsembu, from Namibia, again.
I must say I have enjoyed this FAO e-conference on biotechnology, and wish all those that participated could receive some form of certificates for remembrance. Biotechnology is now a buzz-word here in Africa. I came face to face with the realities of biotechnology ten years ago when as a young African student in Brussels, I was isolating and analyzing Salmonella genes that are induced under iron starvation. This work is now prominent in the development of DNA vaccines. In future, I wish the FAO e-conference would also involve biotechnology in disease analysis, prevention and therapy. But that is for the FAO to decide.
On the question of molecular characterization of biodiversity, the FAO should take the lead in implementing some of the suggestions and recommendations from this conference. We have had many conferences and workshops here in Africa without any follow-up action. This is a waste of time and resources. We need to see movement in the establishment of a DNA resource bank. We need to see movement in training. We need basic infrastructure for biotechnology. We need training materials and courses up and running in our universities.
As a molecular biologist, I have been working with biotech for the past ten years now, first at the University of Zambia (UNZA) from 1996-2002 and now at the University of Namibia (UNAM) from 2002 to-date. My experience over the years is that biotechnology is an expensive business. At UNZA, it was difficult to even extract DNA. Here at UNAM, we have the basic facilities to isolate and amplify DNA and run a gel. We can only go as far as RAPDs since we do not have sequencing equipment. But our budget for consumables is very high. Yet, because Namibia is an arid country, we are presented with the most important biotechnological challenge, that is to screen for drought-tolerance using molecular markers, or better still to find drought-tolerance genes. We also have indigenous resurrection plants from which we could out-source drought-tolerance genes for development of our own “smart plants”. But this is all wishful thinking if we do not have the capacity to do so.
The option is to collaborate with those that have equipment and the know-how. South African Universities have the capacity, like the University of Cape Town where I have visited already. The problem is that we are not at the same level, they are too far ahead. So we are left to tackle the challenge of this biotechnological divide, which is widening day by day, within Africa and without Africa.
This is why international research organizations must step in to help. We also need our own initiatives at the level of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), African Union and regional groupings such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Most often, because of having few trained people in the field of biotechnology, we do not have serious engagement with policy decision-makers to approve biotechnology projects. That is why we see a plethora of useless agronomic and breeding field projects across Africa, without a sound biotechnological base.
Without biotechnology, efforts to solve Africa's hunger and poverty shall take long; in the end, we as scientists shall become irrelevant, and our sciences shall be useless. Our skills in the labs should be as sharp as our skills to negotiate for space and capacity for our science to flourish and make a positive contribution to our people. This is the unique challenge for us the biotechnologists of Africa, to be seen and heard. But we see most often that even at the level of political representation, while African Presidents have political and economic advisors, very few if any have scientific advisors. Shame!
So again, there is a lot we can do from within. We must summon the necessary political will to encourage the growth of biotechnology in Africa. The political will is also important to solve the problem of brain-drain of biotechnologists from Africa to the rich north, or from one African country to another. When I left Zambia three years ago, I could count genuinely trained molecular biologists, including myself, on my ten fingers. A friend I trained with in Brussels who later went to the US has never returned to Zambia or Africa, largely because of poor working conditions, apart from the peanut salary. To attract and retain biotechnologists must become a political undertaking at the level of governments.
That is where I end this debate: we need a leadership that will create capacity for biotechnology in Africa, maybe we should "clone" one - ha ha ha. Thank you very much to the moderator and all the participants.
Kazhila Croffat Chinsembu
Lecturer, Molecular Biology
Faculty of Science, Dept of Biology
University of Namibia
P/B 13301, Windhoek, Namibia.
Tel: 264-61-206 3426
Fax: 264-61-206 3791
Email: kchinsembu (at) unam.na
[Regarding e-conferences in this FAO Biotechnology Forum, a total of 13 have been held so far. None have dealt solely with the topic of biotechnology for disease analysis, prevention and therapy, although these issues have come up in different conferences e.g. in Conference 11 on food processing (involving the use of biotechnology to address food safety and product quality). Secondly, a meeting of the FAO Working Group on Biotechnology was held yesterday and it was decided that the next e-mail conference will deal with the potential role of biotechnology for improving use of water in agriculture. We will come back to the Forum members with more details on this at a later stage...Moderator].
Sent: 01 July 2005 14:04
Subject: 109: Not depending heavily on a single type of marker
This is E.M. Muralidharan from India, again.
For me, one happy outcome of participating in this conference has been the relevation that one should not depend too heavily on molecular markers of a particular type alone. Usually, the literature abounds with statements that only praise what is, for the time being, the latest method and claiming how useful it is in overcoming the disadvantages of the older methods. Words of caution are rarely given. The fact that, even with amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers, conclusions can be misleading means that a critical evaluation should be done by researchers regarding the suitability of a particular system vis-a-vis the costs and ease of use for routine purposes.
It will be useful for many participants here, including me, if a few recent references were listed which comprehensively review the advantages and limitations of the different markers. This will help us choose judiciously the combination of marker systems and help pool together information to suit a particular purpose e.g. characterization of genetic resources. [If participants wish to send me the citations of relevant references, I will compile them and send as a single message before the conference ends. Include any weblinks if the articles are freely available on the web...Moderator].
Scientist, Biotechnology Division
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi, Thrissur, Kerala State
Phone: +91-487-2699061, 2699037
Fax : +91-487-2699249
Email: emmurali (at) kfri.org
emmurali (at) sancharnet.in
Sent: 01 July 2005 14:26
Subject: 110: Benefits of the conference - Bosnia and Herzegovina
My name is Belma Kalamujic. I'm a postgraduate student and an employee of the Institute for genetic engineering and biotechnology in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I'd like to thank the FAO organization for setting up this conference. Since I'm working in the laboratory for molecular genetics of natural resources and my fields of interest for the time being are microsatellite markers and restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs), I had an opportunity to learn a lot from people with various experiences and background.
A lot of participants were from the developing countries so I also had an opportunity to see what kind of problems they face regarding the role of biotechnology in the characterisation and conservation, and to see what is the current position of our Institute, since Bosnia is not a rich country at all.
We were lucky, by participating in various projects with other partner countries, to receive an up-to-date technology and get an education in respectable laboratories in Europe and USA.
Our ongoing project is genetic characterisation of salmonid species in Bosnia and Herzegovina, using microsatellite markers and RFLPs. That our work wasn't worthless. After the first genetic testing of fish farms breeding stocks in 2003 confirmed earlier hypotheses on their alochtonous origin, a new law on freshwater fisheries was adopted, which included provision on obligatory genetic control of material provided for stocking.
I enjoyed being a part of this conference and I hope there will be many more like this one.
Institute for genetic engineering and biotechnology
Kemalbegova 10, 71000 Sarajevo
Bosnia and Herzegovina
belma_kalamujic (at) ingeb.ba
phone/fax ++387 33 442 891
Sent: 01 July 2005 15:27
Subject: 111: Re: Capacity building for biotechnology
From Alice Muchugi, Kenya, again.
On a small note before the conference closes, I would like to respond to Kazhila's message (nr. 108, July 1). Good comments. Just to let you know that I have just come from a meeting where I have learnt that there is a World Bank supported initiative to start up an African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST) with at least five regional centers; western, eastern, northern, southern and central. It is hoped that this will contribute to technological advancement in the region especially in capacity building. (That's good as we have all being suggesting pooling of resources and donor support!). There is also hope that the African scientists in Diaspora will greatly support the initiative even if it's on consultancy basis. Already the west and east centers have been identified and will be Nigeria and Tanzania respectively. So Kazhila can you front your country for southern block. I hope if the initiative materializes all those who have been contributing in this e-conference will assist to make biotechnology advancement a reality in Africa and other developing countries.
Finally it has been good reading all your contributions and I am truly gaining a lot. I look forward to further sharing news in the field with you all. To FAO organizing group, keep up the good work!
PhD Research Fellow
Genetic Resource Unit,
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
PO Box 30677-00100
tel: +254-20-7224000 Ext 4273
email: a.muchugi (at) cgiar.org
Sent: 01 July 2005 16:06
Subject: 112: Biotechnology, conservation and nature
I am Adediran Adeniyi Samuel, a research scientist (nutritionist) at the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) in Banjul, The Gambia.
I am not a biotechnologist by training so please pardon my ignorance. I have been following with great interest all the various contributions and I would like to join issues with Vladimir Magalhães (Message 72, June 23) to raise some ethical issues.
It would seem to me that genetic characterisation and conservation via gene banking cryopreservation, vis a vis in-situ conservation should be considered within the context of the resources, human and materials, available to each country. Granted that the entire human race has a duty to conserve the environment for the use of present and future generations, developing countries should adopt approaches that are most sustainable for them.
The issue of capacity to use this technology has been raised, then there is the financial aspect. On both fronts, the developing country lags far behind. Therefore, for us, conventional conservation approaches cannot be jettisoned without dire consequences. Responsible use of natural resources, control of over exploitation, consciousness for the environment, curbing the over materialistic and capital build up tendencies of modern societal developmental approaches (western economic models) without due consideration for the eco-balance. All these will continue to play vital roles in conservation efforts. Of course, characterization is always good and necessary. We need to know what we have, where we are, where we want to be and how to get there. I therefore share the views of Vladimir that there is a need for international legislation on biopiracy. Until such control measures are in place, the developing countries in particular stand to lose in a biotech race having neither yet the capacity, infrastructures, sense of commitment, on the one hand nor the capital to pursue this mainstream science on the other hand.
Secondly, the entire ecosystem is in a state of constant evolution, if not in the short term in the long term (I stand corrected) with gene by environment interaction continually leading to the evolution of new species and naturally, extinction of certain species. Considering the alarming rate at which our physical environment has been changing, principally through human activities, it is time to reappraise the implications of these events and take thought of how to become partners in progress with nature.
Therefore, whilst not discountenancing the immense benefits of biotechnology and its conservation tools, these cannot be the license for unrestrained exploitation of the natural resource base.
Adediran Samuel Adeniyi
International trypanotolerance Centre (ITC).
Bag 14, Banjul,
Tel:220 - 4462928 (off)
220 - 9945154 (cell)
Fax: 220 - 4462924
niyi.adediran (at) itc.gm
Sent: 01 July 2005 16:36
Subject: 113: Decision-support tools for conservation of livestock
I am Mizeck Chagunda, an animal geneticist from Malawi, currently doing a Postdoc at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Denmark. I have followed with great interest the discussion in this e-conference. A lot of illuminating and constructive contributions.
My contribution, as the conference is going towards its close, is on decision support tools in as far as conservation strategies for farm animal genetic resources is concerned. I agree with the previous contributors that there might be no comprehensive databases available in different countries. Further, I agree that decision for conservation should not be done based on one source of information e.g. molecular markers alone. However, there seems to be a general lack of decision-support tools (computer programs, etc) that would combine information from different sources (molecular, phenotypic, genotypic, production system, indigenous knowledge, social economic, etc) in a meaningful way to support decision for conservation strategies. These tools could be used for monitoring degree of biodiversity, degree of risk and even progress made in different populations. Such tools would even be more useful if they had features that would make them adaptable to local environments and situations. I hope some research and development efforts can be focused in this area so as to utilise the available data where it exists and any future datasets being generated.
Mizeck Chagunda, PhD
Research Unit for Disease Mechanisms, Biomarkers and Prevention
Dept. of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences
Research Centre Foulum
P.O. Box 50
Dir.tel. +45 8999 1477
Cell: +45 5056 3892
Fax +45 8999 1500
email: Mizeck.Chagunda (at) agrsci.dk
Sent: 01 July 2005 16:46
Subject: 114: Re: Root crop diversity and local tissue culture
This is Nagib Nassar, again.
I refer to the proposal by Ann Marie Thro (Message 106, July 1) of using tissue culture as a means to avoid pathogen contamination in cassava. In an early message (nr. 4, June 6), I proposed apomictic clones to be more effective and cheaper. What do my colleages think in this? Your discussion and argument certainly will enrich our knowledge on the subject.
Departamento de Genetica e Morfologia,
Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Universidade de Brasilia,
Campus Universitario Darcy Ribeiro, Asa Norte.
CEP: 70910–900, Brasilia – DF,
Phone: (+55.61) 349.3253
Fax: (+55.61) 349.3562
nagnassa (at) rudah.com.br