chapter  5
29 Pages

Diversifying the future

The challenge of developing a suitable policy agenda for effective and deep-rooted action in the way we manage the plant genetic resource base ofour economies is a tremendous one. We desperately need an umbrella framework, a democratically elaborated action plan that grasps society's rationale for preserving and using biological diversity. Right now, there is a wide range of multiple policies and regulations in operation that deeply affect genetic resources management. Several of them contradict each other. Farm policies push farmers to demand a very low level of diversity and depend instead on external, productivity-pumping technologies. Seed marketing schemes and intellectual property rights laws crown this by pushing research and development toward high uniformity and low innovation. Against this, conservation efforts are almost totally separated from the market and production sphere. Environmental protection programmes throughout Europe provide government money to run nature reserves and parks, to preserve ecosystems and let them evolve without economic intervention. Other budgets go into preserving seeds in genebanks, from a mixture of research and heritage preservation logics.