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ELECTRONIC FORUM ON BIOTECHNOLOGY IN
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE: SUMMARY CONFERENCE 10

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    SUMMARY CONFERENCE 10

    Conference 10 of the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture was entitled "Molecular marker assisted selection as a potential tool for genetic improvement of crops, forest trees, livestock and fish in developing countries". It ran from 17 November to 14 December 2003. The Summary Document of the conference (10 pages) provides a summary of the main arguments and concerns discussed during the conference.

    Executive Summary

    Marker assisted selection (MAS) is a complementary technology, for use in conjunction with more established conventional methods of genetic selection, for plant and animal improvement. It has generated a good deal of expectations, many of which have yet to be realised. Although documentation is limited, the current impact of MAS on products delivered to farmers seems small. While the future possibilities and potential impacts of MAS are considerable, there are also obstacles to its use, particularly in developing countries. Principal among these are issues relating to current high costs of the technology and its appropriateness, given that publicly funded agricultural research in many developing countries is sub-optimal and development priorities do not necessarily include genetic improvement programmes. Other potential obstacles to uptake of MAS in developing countries include limited infrastructure, the absence of conventional breeding programmes, poor private sector involvement and lack of research on specific crops of importance in developing countries. Intellectual property rights may also be an important constraint to development and uptake of MAS in the developing world. It is hoped that through partnerships between developing and developed country institutions and individuals, including public-private sector collaboration, MAS costs can be reduced, resources pooled and shared and capacity be developed. With the assistance of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and international organisations like FAO, developing countries can benefit more from MAS. These were some of the outcomes of a moderated e-mail conference, entitled "Molecular marker assisted selection as a potential tool for genetic improvement of crops, forest trees, livestock and fish in developing countries", hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum from 17 November to 14 December 2003. During the four-week conference, 627 people subscribed and 85 messages were posted, about 60% coming from people living in developing countries. The majority of messages came from people working in research centres and universities. The remainder worked as consultants, in development agencies, for farmer organisations, government agencies, NGOs or UN organisations.

    Read the entire Summary Document of this conference.


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© FAO, 2004