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New Phytol. 2018 Mar;217(4):1407-1419. doi: 10.1111/nph.14993. Epub 2018 Jan 23.

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture: opportunities and challenges emerging from the science and information technology revolution.

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Bioversity International, Via dei Tre Denari, 472/a, 00054, Maccarese, Rome, Italy.
NIAB, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0LE, UK.
T. T. Chang Genetic Resources Center, International Rice Research Institute, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Independent Crop Biodiversity and Intellectual Property Expert, 25057 River Ridge Road, Adel, IA, 50003, USA.
University of British Columbia, Peter A. Allard School of Law, 1822 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada.
School of Public Affairs, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University, 411 North Central Avenue, Suite 463, Phoenix, AZ, 85004-0687, USA.
Independent Crop Biodiversity and Intellectual Property Expert, Technologiepark 38, 9052, Gent, Belgium.
Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization, Yemen St., Chamran Freeway, Tehran, Iran.
Indonesian Centre for Biotechnology and Genetic Resources, JL Tentara Pelajar No. 3A, Kampus Penelitian Pertanian Cimanggu, Bogor, 16111, Indonesia.
Earlham Institute, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK.
EMBL -The European Bioinformatics Institute, Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, CB10 1SD, UK.
Global Plant Council, Bow House, 1a Bow Lane, London, EC4M 9EE, UK.
Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, 308 East Hall, Ames, IA, 50010, USA.
Secretariat of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, Italy.
Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, 240 Emerson Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
SRUC (Scotland's Rural College), Peter Wilson Building, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, UK.


Contents Summary 1407 I. Introduction 1408 II. Technological advances and their utility for gene banks and breeding, and longer-term contributions to SDGs 1408 III. The challenges that must be overcome to realise emerging R&D opportunities 1410 IV. Renewed governance structures for PGR (and related big data) 1413 V. Access and benefit sharing and big data 1416 VI. Conclusion 1417 Acknowledgements 1417 ORCID 1417 References 1417 SUMMARY: Over the last decade, there has been an ongoing revolution in the exploration, manipulation and synthesis of biological systems, through the development of new technologies that generate, analyse and exploit big data. Users of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) can potentially leverage these capacities to significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts to conserve, discover and utilise novel qualities in PGR, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This review advances the discussion on these emerging opportunities and discusses how taking advantage of them will require data integration and synthesis across disciplinary, organisational and international boundaries, and the formation of multi-disciplinary, international partnerships. We explore some of the institutional and policy challenges that these efforts will face, particularly how these new technologies may influence the structure and role of research for sustainable development, ownership of resources, and access and benefit sharing. We discuss potential responses to political and institutional challenges, ranging from options for enhanced structure and governance of research discovery platforms to internationally brokered benefit-sharing agreements, and identify a set of broad principles that could guide the global community as it seeks or considers solutions.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); access and benefit sharing; big data; data integration; farmer's rights; global governance; plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA); synthetic biology


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