22 March is World Water Day. Its international observance is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on behalf of the 24 Agencies and Programme Members of UN-Water, the theme of World Water Day for 2007 was “Coping with water scarcity”. The day provided an opportunity to reflect on the challenges posed by the unsustainable increase in water use and its degradation across the world and it also served as a spur to action.
The background document for the FAO e-mail conference entitled "The role of agricultural biotechnologies for production of bioenergy in developing countries" is now available. The 22-page document gives an overview of the current status regarding bioenergy, focusing on first- and second-generation liquid biofuels, including the reasons for the major current focus on liquid biofuels as well as current concerns about them.
This document represents a collaborative effort by the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Regional Forums to agree on a common policy for advocacy on Information and Communication Management. The recognition of knowledge as a critical resource for practising efficient farming and developing agriculture makes sharing and exchange of knowledge globally vital for agricultural development. Since agricultural research is a major source of new agricultural knowledge, this is a key strategic area of focus and intervention by GFAR whose mandate is to promote and facilitate agricultural research for development (ARD).
As one of its main activities, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) actively promotes, advocates and enables the sharing of agriculture-related information and knowledge. The current implementation of the Web Ring on EGFAR (GFAR’s webspace at www.egfar.org) gives access to GFAR stakeholders’ information resources in different ways: through a custom full-text search on partner websites; by harvesting news from several partner organizations; through advanced searches on partner databases in those cases where agreement on protocols and standards has been reached.
The FAO Research and Technology Paper 9, entitled "Glossary of Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture”, is a revised, augmented version of the "Glossary of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering", published by FAO in 1999 and co-authored by A. Zaid, H.G. Hughes, E. Porceddu and F. Nicholas.
In 2001, the process of revising the Glossary was undertaken to update the definitions of this rapidly evolving field and to enrich the number of terms defined. It now includes about 450 new terms, about 100 old terms have been deleted and it contains a total of 3,196 terms and related definitions.
The biotechnology tool of marker-assisted selection (MAS) has raised high expectations for increasing genetic progress through breeding. Some experts have even argued that the application of MAS could “revolutionize” the way varieties and breeding stock are developed.
A High-level meeting was held on 3 April 2007 at FAO headquarters in Rome between FAO, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and its International Agricultural Research Centers. Mr Jacques Diouf, Director General, led the FAO delegation, while the CGIAR was represented by the Director-Generals of eight Centers, one Board Chair (Mr James Godfrey from the International Potato Center), the Chair of the CGIAR Science Council (Mr R. Rabbinge) and the Chair of the CGIAR Alliance Executive (Mr Emile Frison).
Edited by J. Ruane and A. Sonnino, this 187-page book brings together papers from an international workshop held on 5-7 March 2005 in Turin, Italy, on the role of biotechnology for the characterization and conservation of crop, forest, animal and fishery genetic resources as well as the background and summary documents from an e-mail conference on the same subject that was held three months afterwards.
The rural people in developing countries are often far removed from many important decision-making processes. Production and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a topical issue and could impact on socio-cultural systems of rural populations in developing countries. Involving the rural people in decision-making on GMOs was discussed during this moderated e-mail conference hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum in 2005.
In 2003, FAO launched an on-line searchable database called FAO-BioDeC, providing information on biotechnology products/techniques in use or in the pipeline in developing countries (including countries with economies in transition). This report by Z. Dhlamini, C. Spillane, J.P. Moss, J. Ruane, N. Urquia and A. Sonnino, provides a first analysis of about 2,000 crop-sector entries from 71 developing countries contained in the database as of 31 August 2004. Entries cover genetically modified (GM) crops and non-GM biotechnologies (such as micropropagation, molecular markers, diagnostics (e.g. ELISA) and microbial techniques).