39 Genetic diversity for food security and nutrition

Integrating genetic resources for food and agriculture in food security policies and programmes

Organizers: Slow Food; NEPAD; FAO

Abstract

This side event addresses the key role of genetic resources for food and agriculture to food security. Panelists will share experiences and discuss the challenge of conserving and sustainably using genetic resources for food and agriculture and of making biodiversity and genetic resources an integral part of national food security and nutrition policies. The event offers an excellent opportunity for delegates, policy makers and experts to exchange information on and discuss possibilities of improving the linkages between the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture and the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition

Key speakers

Kostas Stamoulis (Assistant Director General ad interim, Economic and Social Development Department)

Irene Hoffmann (Secretary, Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture)

Larissa Maria Lima Costa (Alternate Permanent Representative of Brazil to FAO)

Daniela Moura de Oliveira Beltrame (Brazil National Project Coordinator -

Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project)

Diran Makinde (Senior Advisor, African Biosafety Network of Expertise, NEPAD, African Union)

Ludovico Roccatello (Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity)

Summary

Genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA) are the strategic reservoir on which all our food production systems depend. GRFA are important to maintain and increase productivity to feed a growing population, improve food quality by enhancing nutritional content, strengthen the stability and resilience of production systems, help communities and producers recover from disasters, and provide adaptation options for future changes in production conditions and needs. Maintaining GRFA is a global task that requires collaboration and cooperation at all levels between all relevant stakeholders.

Main themes/issues discussed

The event offered an opportunity for delegates, policy makers and experts to exchange information on and discuss possibilities of improving the linkages between the conservation and sustainable use of GRFA and the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Panellists shared experiences on making biodiversity and genetic resources an integral part of national food security and nutrition policies.

Summary of key points

Mainstreaming the use and conservation of GRFA into food security and nutrition policies requires an inclusive and synergistic process, involving many sectors - public and private - and the civil society.

The enhanced use of ‘orphan’ or underutilized species, varieties and breeds contributes to both, GRFA conservation and broadening the food base, with many underutilized species having highly nutritious value.

Food has many cultural roles, and stories about food, the promotion of diversity-based foods can take place through the education system, community training and engagement with cooks.

Market development and access of smallholder farmers to product markets are critical components to entice smallholders’ and indigenous peoples’ continued production of diverse foods.

Appropriate financial incentives are supporting tools for the production of indigenous and biodiverse foods. On the other hand, reflecting the environmental externalities in the prices of intensively produced foods will contribute to creating a level playing field.

Key outcomes/take away messages

Diversity comes with greater complexity, and a targeted mix of policies is needed.

Scaling-up initiatives for promoting biodiverse foods remain will require more advocacy, training at government and decision making levels and targeted funding, and improved institutionalization.

There is a rising trend of cross-sectoral involvement of different stakeholders in promoting GRFA with respect to food security and nutrition.