Genetic Resources
and Biodiversity

Biodiversity for food and agriculture are among the earth’s most important resources. Crops, farm animals, aquatic organisms, forest trees, micro-organisms and invertebrates – thousands of species and their genetic variability make up the web of biodiversity that the world’s food production depends on. 

Genetic resources are indispensable, be they insects pollinating plants, microscopic bacteria needed for making cheese, diverse breeds of livestock needed for making a living even in the harshest of environments, or the thousands of varieties of crops sustaining food security worldwide. For thousands of years, humankind has used, developed and relied on genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Genetic resources are being lost at an alarming rate. With the erosion of these resources mankind looses the potential to adapt to new socio-economic and environmental conditions, such as population growth and climate change.

Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Maintaining biodiversity is a global responsibility. Aware of the importance of biodiversity for food and agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1983, established the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The Commission is a permanent forum where governments discuss and negotiate matters relevant to genetic resources for food and agriculture. The main objectives of the Commission are to ensure the conservation and sustainable utilization of genetic resources for food and agriculture, as well the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use, for present and future generations.

A related activity concerns the work of the "Working Together Towards the Biodiversity 2010 Target" project (Project GCP/GLO/197/ITA). This project, based on a Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and the Italian Ministry for Environment Land and Sea calls attention to the importance of fighting biodiversity loss through cooperation and international conventions, implemented jointly by the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department of FAO and the Directorate for Nature Protection of the Ministry.

Agricultural Biodiversity

This web site highlights FAO work not only in areas related to crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and natural resource management, but also on crosscutting issues such as gender and biodiversity, the ecosystem approach, and invasive alien species.

Organic Agriculture

This web site brings together information, reports, publications, country data and projects relating to organic agriculture. The aim of the FAO Organic Agriculture Programme is to enhance food security, rural development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing.